“I hate getting punishments so I’m gonna make sure I change. Amma (mummy) loves me but she does not LIKE me!” were the last words written by eight-year-old Ayesha Ali on a piece of paper found after she had been battered to death in her own home, by her mother, Polly Chowdhury and Polly’s lesbian lover Kiki Muddar.As though it was not shocking enough that Polly Chowdhury, described by her former husband as a ‘perfect mother’, had systematically abused her own daughter to the point of death, simply on the demands of her new lover, Muddar’s own motives, or lack thereof, which led her to participate in the abuse, are also highly perplexing.
This is not the typical crime where motives such as money, greed, jealousy, lust, revenge are at play. The 8-year-old posed no threat to anyone, and the recording of Kiki Muddar’s hate-filled rant against Ayesha is inexplicable. Such cases where the motive of the perpetrator is difficult for us to comprehend often get classed as acts of insanity, where the person in question needs psychiatric help. Some would say that this is an example where the causes are supernatural. It is the epitome of evil and only humans are capable of doing this, despite being the most highly evolved species. Thus, such examples are not seen in the animal kingdom. Rather, we see the protective mother becoming ferocious when she senses danger posed to her offspring.
Of course, this has nothing to do with either of the women’s anthropological backgrounds. While Kiki’s religious beliefs, whatever they may be, drew no attention whatsoever, the usual tabloid paper headlines mentioning the ‘Muslim’ killer lesbian or the monstrously abusive ‘Muslim’ mother do not detract from the fact that instances of child abuse take place in all communities and are not the reserve of any religion, race or gender. Why not simply regard Polly and Kiki like any other British criminal? Taking this cheap shot at Islam by selectively referring to Polly’s Muslim heritage conforms to the current fad of Islamophobia, it makes a case for good business, and papers like the Daily Mail are keen to get lots of UKIP like readers. And besides, does the fact that Polly was a Muslim make her worse than Kiki, who was not, but who appeared to be the actively manipulative one?
This having been said, nobody will dispute the guilty verdict passed on the two culprits, and commentaries made by members of the public on various news sites, comprise disgust at the fact that the two women got off lightly with manslaughter, instead of murder. They even go so far as to demand tougher punishment for these crimes than ‘mere’ imprisonment, with demands for public hanging and executions. But isn’t that what they do in ‘Muslim countries’ like Saudi Arabia? It is an axiom that when serious crimes are not punished adequately, this implicitly endorses the crime, and reflects how society values such matters, and the sort of punishment that these two women have received sends out an implicit message of encouragement to other child abusers.
Many also make the pertinent query as to why the father was absent. He should have been there to protect his child. It is said that he initially moved home with his wife and child when he heard of Kiki Muddar’s ‘interferences’ but that the crazed and evil Kiki, who had multiple alter egos, followed the family to their new home and ‘evicted’ him.After this fact, one would hope that, while his wife was lost to him, that he would still be in regular contact with his daughter. It is not permissible in Islam for a father to be denied access to his own children, and many would say, this is commonsense and does not require a religious edict or a fatwa. Yet, this gross concoction of impermissibility which created Ayesha’s suffering continued on, sadly facilitated by the courts of law, which lie apathetic and indifferent to situations where mothers deny fathers access to their children, removing a layer of protection.
Instead of doing what is best for the child, i.e. to legally enforce shared parenting by default in cases where the mother and father are apart, the situation is such that fathers must fight a hard battle within an expensive court system in order to gain even minimal access. To gain adequate access to children via the court system takes time, and mothers with residency rights (or custody) are empowered to make this very difficult.
Many feel that we live in a culture where fathers are simply discarded. They are like an optional add-on for the children, and, very often, are given limited access, sometime through contact centres, as if they pose some threat to the child, despite providing it with half of its DNA. Strangely, this exclusion is frequently justified as being “in the interest of the child”. Even more obscene is the fact that many loving fathers are forced to pay for maintenance of their children, and yet they cannot see them. Such is the situation in the 21st Century, where these fathers are treated like the African slaves who had their children snatched away with only the most selfish of intentions.
The problems of not providing shared parenting by law are far-reaching, as witnessed in the situation of little Ayesha. Separation alone is traumatic, particularly when the child does not understand why one parent is absent. More significantly, in cases where one parent is abusive, the child can seek shelter with the other, and that parent will probably notice the signs of abuse and can contact the Social Services and police as a means of further protecting the child. If Ayesha’s father had had regular contact with her, instead of being purposefully eliminated from the lives of his ex-wife and her new lover, then she may well have still been alive and the abuse discovered and dealt with at a much earlier date. He was distraught at her death, which shows that he clearly loved and cared for his daughter a good deal, but sadly, by law, it was near impossible for him to see her when she most needed it.
It is high time we should stop assuming that mothers are always the victims and that they need protection. They are heavily empowered to make fathers’ lives hell, and to remove them entirely from the lives of their own children. Having such a position, they can also cause harm to their children without being detected. The research  shows that both genders commit infanticide almost in equal proportion and in some countries the mothers’ brutality exceed that of fathers. This should not replicate itself within the UK due to a skewed or lazy British justice system. We consider ourselves a civilised nation and should take it for granted that the law adequately protects our children, but as long as shared parenting cannot be taken for granted, this will not be the case.
Published on 10/3/2015