By Safa Ben Said | Jun 11 2014Aya
A Tunisian man is accused of burning his 13-year-old daughter to death for walking home from school with a male classmate May 28 in Ibn Khaldoun, a suburb of Tunis.
Aya, a high school student, died on June 7 from fourth-degree burns, Kapitalis and other local news sources reported.
“The father has been arrested since the incident occurred,” Allala Rouhma, a spokesperson for the Tunis Court of First Instance, told Tunisia Live. The father’s name has not been released.
Aya spent nine days in the Ben Arous Hospital for Burns and Injuries before succumbing to her injuries.
Aya’s death has been seen as resulting from an ‘honor crime,’ a killing committed in response to perceived shaming of the family. Such practices are almost unheard of in modern Tunisia.
These crimes target mostly women. Extramarital sex, or even suspicion of it, is a major cause.
Aya’s death shocked the country and sparked an indignant response from many Tunisians.
One group of activists called for a silent march in her memory on June 19. The Facebook event, ‘Aya, Voice of the Victim,’ called on Tunisians to participate and denounce her death and honor killings.
“This act is nothing more than a sign of a sick and suffering society that continues to demonize the female gender,” said the event’s page.
“What happened is strange in our society,” Feten Abdelkafi, one of the event’s organizers, told Tunisia Live.
“The poor girl was just returning from school with her classmate. I can’t believe that a father could do such a thing to his daughter,” she added.
Activists have called for greater media coverage of Aya’s death.
“I cannot believe that this case could fall into oblivion. What happened is an unacceptable crime. Further, the reactions of some people who justify this barbaric act reflect the degree of ignorance that prevails in the country,” activist and blogger Lina ben Mhenni wrote in a Facebook post.
The Facebook page I too was abused was created in solidarity with Aya’s cause. The page has launched a hashtag #moi_aussi_j_ai_été_violentée, French for “I too was abused,” to encourage women to tell their stories and take a stand against all forms of violence.