I’m writing to solicit your urgent and critical support.
My cousin Ms. Latifa Ihsan B. Ali and her children are in hiding from an abusive husband, in the United Arab Emirates. Latifa is an American citizen born in Wilmington, Delaware. She was educated in schools in Delaware and graduated from the University of Delaware. She met and married Adil Saleem Woods, an American citizen born in Philadelphia, PA. Latifa and their children are victims of domestic abuse and her husband is doing all that he can (including accusing her of adultery-which is a GRAVE offense in most Muslim countries) to prevent her and her children from leaving the country.
I’m asking everyone, regardless of if you live in the US or not, to write a short letter to the US State Department, on Latifa’s behalf, asking them to bring her and her children home.
The letter should be addressed to:
Ms Brook E. Knobel, US State Department
Overseas Citizens Services
In response to the Latifa’s harrowing experience, someone said to me “Islam is madness…” My response was, is and will always be “Patriarchy is madness. Misogyny is madness. ALL FORMS OF Violence Against Women and Children are madness.”
Unfortunately too many abusive men all over the world condone their atrocities perpetrated against women and children under the guise of their sexist (mis)interpretation of almost all of the major religions practiced on the globe. I write this as a survivor of incest and rape and as a feminist lesbian activist who has dedicated most of my adult life to address violence against women.
Instead of reinventing the wheel and in the interest of time (because time is of the essence), I'm sharing a very detailed account, from Sharon Ali, Latifa's mom and my aunt, who is a practicing Muslim, about what has happened and what is happening. I'm also sharing a letter that Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons, my mother, who is a practicing Muslim and feminist Islamic scholar, wrote to the US State Department yesterday. While it shouldn't matter if Aunt Sharon or my Mom are practicing Muslims or not, I think it's important to stress these components of their identities in a climate and country where Islamaphobia has become the norm.
As we all know, there is power in numbers...
I am also in direct/personal touch with Robin Morgan from the Sisterhood Is Global Institute. They are writing letters and are passing on to their networks.
PLEASE WRITE LETTERS…. CALL THE STATE DEPARTMENT…BLOG ABOUT IT...SPREAD THE WORD FAR AND WIDE
In Struggle & In Peace,
Aishah Shahidah Simmons
“Our daughter, Latifa, and her children have escaped an abusive situation in Dubai UAE and need help. Her husband has brought charges against her for kidnapping their children, and the police and the CID of Dubai (Central Investigation Dept) are looking for her. He had a travel ban placed on their passports and they cannot leave the country. She is presently in a shelter with the children.
Latifa Ihsan Ali was born 4-24-76 in Wilmington, Delaware to American parents Rudolph Ali and Sharon Ali. She graduated from Wilmington schools and from the University of Delaware (UD). She met Adil Saleem Woods, born in Philadelphia to American parents. They attended University of Delaware and were married 8-18-94 in Newark, Delaware. USA File# 10794002992. They are presently married and have 2 children, Maryam (born in Yemen) and Muhammad (born in Syria) who are US citizens. They have been living in Dubai UAE since October 2008 when he took a teaching job. Although he got a visa and was supposed to sponsor his family under his passport, he never got visas for them. Visa fines accrue daily and totaled $15,000 for her and the children. Not having visa not only prevents from traveling, but also simple things like having a cell phone, bank account, receiving money at Western Union, etc.
Latifa and the children have been subjected to total dependence and control, abuse, mental cruelty, isolation and humiliation on a daily basis. She wants to leave the marriage and has been in touch with the consulate for advice about traveling back home with the children so she can file for divorce and custody in the US. However, American policy is that a parent must have consent of the other parent or full custody before travelng. As we all should know, you will never get consent from an abuser, so the only alternative was to hire lawyers in Dubai to secure a divorce, which takes many months. There is no custody in Dubai without divorce. After getting a lawyer, authenticating each paperwork through the Dept of State (birth records, marriage certificates, etc), which took a few months by itself, we still were not able to file as she had no visa. Her abusive situation continued to get worse daily. He denied her food, a bed to sleep in, took her keys, canceled her debit card, stole her money, prevented her from earning money, hid the passports and threatened to beat her if she left the house.
In the meantime, her husband AKA Adil ibn Saleem Woods married Dana Terciu 2-4-09 in Romania. He got a visa for her for Dubai 4-19-09, when she came to reside in the same house as Latifa. (Latifa has copy of the certificate of this marriage). This is a clear violation of her respect and US law. It is against American law to be married to two women at the same time. Clearly, he is using the UAE to live outside of American law.
We understand the need for laws regarding parental abduction, but these laws DO NOT WORK when it comes to abusive situations and a woman and her children must flee to safety. They take their lives in their hands to escape abuse, only to end up in another abusive situation with the red tape of American law, with still no justice. What can we do to bring Latifa and the children home? Please influence the Consulate and Dubai authorities to lift the travel ban and let Latifa and the children return to Delaware. With the help of the consulate, she was able to get visa fine waivers, which come with the provision that they never return to Dubai. They must leave within a few days, but that has been overridden by the abusive husband’s police report banning their travel. Let them come back so divorce and custody can be settled in America. He has portrayed himself as the victim to the police, when in fact he is the abuser. Thank you for any help you can give to bring Latifa and the children home. More details can be provided if needed. – Sharon and Rudolph Ali"
All of the Names husband goes by:
Adil Ibn Saleem Woods
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Gwendolyn Simmons
Date: Mon, May 18, 2009 at 3:55 PM
Subject: Mrs. Latifa Ihsan b. Ali - An American citizen detained in Dubai UAE against her will
Cc: Rheejx@state.gov, Marie Ali, Sharon Ali
Ms. Brook E. Knobelbe
U.S. State Department
Overseas Citizen Services
Dear Ms Knobelbe,
I am writing about Ms. Latifa Ihsan b. Ali - a family member - who along with her two minor children are being detained against her will in Dubai, UAE. I am gravely concerned about her and her children's well-being and safety. Her mother Mrs. Sharon Ali has informed me of the situation for Mrs. Latifa Ali. I am a professor of Islamic Studies and the focus of my research is on Muslim Women and Shari'ah Law, specifically as it relates to Personal Status Law. I am fully aware, as I am sure that you are, of the injustices to women enshrined in that law. I am hopeful that as Latifa Ali is an American citizen as are her children, that her case is being adjudicated according to U.S. law (and not the Shari'ah) and that you and the consulate staff at the U. S. Embassy in Dubai are doing everything in your power to extract her and her children from an abusive and dangerous situation where some harm could befall her and the children.
I am in touch with extensive networks who work to help Muslim women gain their human rights in these type situations (WLUML. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, SIGI and others) and will be notifying them of Mrs. Ali's plight and the need for international attention to her situation there in Dubai if the situation is not rectified immediately.
I remind you, Mrs Ali and her children are U.S. citizens and are entitled to full diplomatic assistance in the repatriation of her and her children back to the United States, expeditiously. I look forward to learning that the State Department has exercised its full authority in this matter and that Mrs. Ali and the children will be returned shortly to the U.S.
Thanks you for your attention to my concern.
Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons, Ph.D.
"Develop the mind of equilibrium. You will always be getting praise and blame, but do not let either affect the poise of the mind: follow the calmness, the absence of pride." -- Sutta Nipata
"By amending our mistakes, we get wisdom. By defending our faults, we betray an unsound mind." --The Sutra of Hui Neng
Aishah Shahidah Simmons,
AfroLez Productions, LLC
PO Box 58085
Philadelphia, PA 19102-8085
Visit the NO! Website www.NOtheRapeDocumentary.org