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Urgent - what should I do?

post #1 of 49
Thread Starter 
I just got off the phone with one of my students. She called me on her cell phone from Brussels, because she couldn't reach her parents (I can't reach them either). She's there finalizing the paper work for an arranged marriage that's supposed to take place in July. Her fiance beat her up today, so badly that he got scared and called emergency. A doctor came, and wanted to put her in the hospital. She refused to go, because her fiance has taken all her money, plane ticket and passport. He didn't find her cell phone. She's Lebanese, but has just taken German citizenship. She's not sure of the address she's at. He's threatening her again. I told her to call emergency again, because they must have a record of todays's call with the address, and to have them come and take her to the hospital. Then the hospital could contact the German Embassy/Consulate and the police. She was afraid to give me her cell phone number, because she doesn't want him to discover that she has it. Barring that, I told her to get out of the apartment and keep asking for help until somebody contacts the police.
Any ideas? This kid just turned 19, isn't worldly at all, and really scared.
post #2 of 49
Call the German embassy/consulate in Brussels pronto, and tell them that you are a legal resident of Germany, a teacher (give them your visa and passport number, full name, contact info) and give them the emergency situation of a german citizen. You should also call the Belgian police, if possible and give them her name.

Tell her to call an emergency number, call the consulate or the police. If she can't try that, to do this: simply get out of the apartment as soon as possible and simply ask for help. Find the first traffic officer she can find or something like that.

As soon as she can find solace in the embassy, then the german government can arrange to get her back to Germany.
post #3 of 49
Tell them everything you've told us and all you know, the embassy will be able to link up with the police and search those records of the ER to get her address.

Give them the name of the boyfriend, since tickets may be under his name, its useful.

She may also be registered with the embassy as most foreigners who reside abroad do, and the police will have records of plane tickets in and out of Belgium, and the embassy has acess to passport records.
post #4 of 49
You have gotten good advice already, I just want to add that you are doing a great job trying to help this young lady. I hope things work out for the best for her.
post #5 of 49
Jcat, I have here for you the adress, and contact information of the German embassy and all german consulates in Belgium:

Name Botschaft der Bundesrepublik Deutschland
Head of mission Peter von Butler, a.o. und bev. Botschafter
Town Brüssel
Street Avenue de Tervuren 190, 1150 Brüssel.
Telephone No. (0032 2) 774 19 11, 774 19 00 (automat. Auskunftssystem für Pass-und andere Konsularangelegenheiten)
Fax No. (0032 2) 772 36 92
P.O.Box Botschaft der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Tervurenlaan / Avenue de Tervueren 190, 1150 Brüssel, Belgien.
Consular district: Belgien.

Honorary Consul:

Name Honorarkonsul der Bundesrepublik Deutschland
Head of mission Dr. René Loix, Honorarkonsul
Town Antwerpen
Street Haven 507 - Scheldelaan 420, 2040 Antwerpen
Telephone No. (0032 3) 544 89 67
Fax No. (0032 3) 540 36 00
P.O.Box Honorarkonsul der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Haven 507 - Scheldelaan 420, 2040 Antwerpen, Belgien
Consular district: Provinz Antwerpen. Übergeordnete Auslandsvertretung: Botschaft Brüssel

Name Honorarkonsul der Bundesrepublik Deutschland
Head of mission Prof. José Cajot, Honorarkonsul
Town Hasselt
Street Mombeekdreef 18, 3500 Hasselt
Telephone No. (0032 11) 27 09 58
Fax No. (0032 11) 27 09 58
P.O.Box Honorarkonsul der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Mombeekdreef 18, 3500 Hasselt, Belgien.
Consular district: Provinz Limburg. Übergeordnete Auslandsvertretung: Botschaft Brüssel.

Name Honorarkonsul der Bundesrepublik Deutschland
Head of mission Michel Hahn, Honorarkonsul
Town Lüttich
Street Rue de Chênée 53, 4031 Angleur.
Telephone No. (0032 4) 361 24 84
Fax No. (0032 4) 361 24 85
P.O.Box Consul Honoraire de la République fédérale d´Allemagne, Rue de Chênée 53, 4031 Angleur, Belgien.
Consular district: Provinz Lüttich. Übergeordnete Auslandsvertretung: Botschaft Brüssel.

Name Honorarkonsul der Bundesrepublik Deutschland
Head of mission Philippe Decrop, Honorarkonsul
Town Ostende
Street Orteliuslaan 8, 8420 De Haan
Telephone No. (0032 59) 32 63 34
Fax No. (0032 59) 32 63 34
P.O.Box Honorarkonsul der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Orteliuslaan 8, 8420 De Haan, Belgien.
Consular district: Provinz Westflandern. Übergeordnete Auslandsvertretung: Botschaft Brüssel.

I brought it from the English version of the German Ministry of Foreign affairs website. http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/www/e...d=Vertretungen

You've got me worried sick with those news, please keep us informed!
post #6 of 49
I've sent a PM with a suggestion, though I think the answers you've already gotten are very good.

I sure hope she's O.K. - poor girl, how terrifying!
post #7 of 49
Thread Starter 
!!!!! I've tried the embassy - I'm getting an answering machine, although it's only around 9 p.m.. Terrific. The operator put me in touch with the police in Brussels - they've noted her name, but without his full name, which I don't know, nor does her best friend, and an address they can't do much. Her friend is going to go to her parents' apartment and leave a note. The worst part of this is, when I asked what I could do to help, she told me she just wanted there to be an adult witness to tell her side of the story, in case he kills her. I'm going to try her parents' number again, and see if I can get somebody in the Foreign Ministry here. I could scream.
post #8 of 49
Oh my gosh, this is so horrible, I hope you can get ahold of her again and see if she knows where she is, all I know to do is run out of the apartment and find anyone, ANYONE, and ask for help, or isn't there usually an office at apartment complexes with people in there? If so she should go there. I really hope she comes out of this all right. Please keep us informed!:goodbad:
post #9 of 49
Heck, try the consulate in Antwerp. And if that one doesn't work get the other consulates in Belgium. And the Ministry of Consular affairs in Berlin.

JC, You are her teacher, aren't you? If you have got acess to the same info teachers have here, you will have in your school acess to her full name, and National Identity Number, you may even have her former visa and passport numbers of when she was a Syrian citizen. You ought to be able to get that in the school.

You can also try the German Federal Police.

Look, another thing you should get ready, is to have to possibly do a quick trip across the Rhine into Belgium. I hope that isn't needed, but if the situation worsens you may have to go there with short notice.

In which region of Germany you live? Do you live near the border with Holland and Belgium?
post #10 of 49
Is he a foreign citizen or a citizen of Belgium? Is he also of Arab origin? If he's a foreign citizen he is easier to track, as he has a residence visa. For example, there can't be many foreign citizens in Brussels, with a particular arab name.
post #11 of 49
Thread Starter 
Victor, thanks so much for your help. The problem with the passports is that there are "open borders" (Schengan Agreement) in the EU, so no record, other than airline passenger lists, is kept of EU citizens entering other EU countries. They don't even enter my name and passport number in a computer when I return to the EU from a trip, although I'm not an EU citizen. I got a return call from the embassy about 10 minutes ago - they'll have the police go through today's emergency calls, and do a "welfare check". Her fiance is a Belgian citizen, but has an Arab name, so that should narrow things down if his name instead of hers was recorded. I hope. Her parents still aren't home, which is strange - they have young children. If I don't hear anything by tomorrow, I'll call again. I hate these arranged marriages.
post #12 of 49
I know that of the EU, but the reason for which I am putting so much importance to her passport, is that it is the main ID when abroad, so for the embassy do try and locate her whereabouts, the passport number, or at least National Identity, are paramount. That's why I talked of airline tickets, instead of customs. Besides, she must have given her passport for the paperwork of the marriage.

The embassy ought to do the trick. The only place I know that emergency calls are not recorded is right here in Puerto Rico, since its illegal. They will also be able to check for her full name and get her records.

What's "welfare check"?

She's in my thoughts and prayers.
post #13 of 49
I was going to suggest having the police do a welfare check. If you are worried about a person's health or life, the police will go to the house/apartment to just check on the person's welfare. If they feel there is a problem, they will remove that person for their own safety. They will also make an arrest if the situation calls for it. Most of the women who move out of a woman's shelter get welfare checks from our local police at least once a week.


PS...If you hear from her again, tell her to leave, just leave. Don't tell him she is going, he will beat her again. Tell her to go out into the street and yell FIRE. Don't yell help, don't yell rape. FIRE gets a response, the other 2 are often ignored. And don't let him drag her back into the house. Even if she has to break a store window to get help, do not go back into the house.
post #14 of 49
Thread Starter 
A "welfare check" is when the police go to somebody's home to see if they are okay, or ill/injured/dead, because friends, relatives or coworkers haven't been able to reach them. In other words, they check on somebody's welfare. I thought about all the documents R. and her fiance have been getting together, too, but figured there wasn't much that could be done about checking out names & addresses until government offices opened again tomorrow.
This is really horrible. I'm wondering if something has also happened with her little sisters. R.'s mother lost her sister, brother-in-law, nieces and nephews when Baghdad was bombed. (They're Palestinian, and the entire family left Lebanon while civil war was raging there). One of her nephews survived, according to neighbors, but he still hasn't been located. She was pregnant at the time, had a nervous breakdown, and bore twin girls prematurely. I can't think of any other reason why they're not home at this late hour.
It's not nice to say, but I wonder if they'd even help their daughter, since they're the ones who are forcing her into this marriage.
post #15 of 49
Learned a new English term today... there is no such term in Spanish, but I know exactly what you mean.

All this is horrible, but at least I hope that the parents will do something about it. She had tried to contact them, and believe me, the person who knows the parents better than they themselves do is a teenage son/daughter. So, if she tried to call them for help, it's because she believes they will do something about it. In such a situation, and in a foreign country, to make matters worst. Seems like a nightmare

Arranged marriages, nowadays the only difference they have from the kind of marriage we all are familiar with is the arrangement. Often it can be for reasons of friendship between the two families, or many times for economic reasons (its a rich family and such ideas) among others. However, at the very moment that such a thing happens, and before they've even married the reaction will be basically "The deal's off". Of the 20 or so muslim countries, you can count with a single hand (and have a LOT of fingers to spare) the ones where such a thing would be tolerated by the family, much less legal, IMO.

It's 12:38 PM Puerto Rico time, it must be around 6 PM in Germany, are there any news?
post #16 of 49
Thread Starter 
There's news, but it's "mixed". R. called me around noon today. The police came, and she is now in a Brussels hospital, where she'll have to remain until Friday. She hasn't pressed charges against the guy, because she's afraid to. Her twin sister is going to Brussels tomorrow, and their father is going to drive there Friday and bring them back to Germany. That's the good news: she's out of immediate danger.
The bad news is that she has been legally married to the Belgian since Friday. Dear old dad is going to bring her back here to recover, but then she has to go back to the man she "belongs to". (Apparently her new husband paid a "bride price" of €30,000, which her father has no intention of paying back. I have that information from her best friend.) If she causes any trouble or disgraces the family, she'll be beaten, or worse. I know she's been slapped around at home, and also that it's not uncommon among Lebanese families for girls or women to be killed if they "dishonor" the family. Hardly a week goes by here without a report of an "honor murder" among immigrant families. There was a really horrific one last year where a man beheaded his sister-in-law and then walked through the pedestrian precint swinging her head by the hair. So I take it seriously.
Last year, when all this talk of an arranged marriage came up, one of the other teachers put R. in touch with an organization in Stuttgart, "Rosa e.V.", which helps Moslem girls and women escape arranged marriages. They get them out of the country and help them to start a new life elsewhere. The only thing is, they have to break off all contact to their families and friends. R. didn't want to go that far.
post #17 of 49
Oh god, that is awful. I have heard about honor killings and that is so wrong.

I find it sad that she "belongs" to this man and will bew going back to him, its like she is an object, not a person.

post #18 of 49
That is terrible!

It's really sad and disgusting that her own family is willing to sell her off to a life of (or even death by)abuse. I fail to see any honor in such pure greed and disregard for your own children. What a nightmare.

Do you think she might be willing speak with a counselor from the organization you mentioned, if they have one? Perhaps now, after her recent experience, she might listen to a counselor who could try to convince her that for her safety she needs to cut off contact with her family?
post #19 of 49
Thread Starter 
I can't understand how parents can do such a thing to their own child. The kids grow up here, are your "average" European kids in most ways, and then are forced to follow traditions that even some Moslem countries, like Tunisia and Morocco, have banned, or at least are trying to ban. Every couple of years we have cases like this at school, and most of the time the kids are just too frightened to fight it.
post #20 of 49
To me I think if anyone is willing to sell their own child they don't love them enough, I agree maybe now after what has happened she will think about getting away with that organization? If not there is a major problem now because this guy is going to be very very very mad about what happened and will hurt her even worse, at the least! That seems to always happen, a woman gets out of an abusive relationship, somehow he finds her and hurts her and sometimes kills her. I really hope she thinks about leaving for good, I would hate to hear about her being abused so badly like this!
post #21 of 49
Thread Starter 
I just spent the last half hour with R. on the phone. She has severe back injuries, and lost so much blood that they gave her transfusions. The hospital has her in intensive care, so that she is under "guard" all the time. The Consulate is involved, and has talked to her parents, so they are being pressured to allow her to divorce (okay, so I have to stop bitching about bureaucrats and hospital administrators, and even though the Belgian police have a bad reputation because of Dutroux, they've all come through for her.). I still think she's going to have to disappear. Taking her in here won't be an option, because her parents now know I'm involved. It's really sad that the poor kid has to turn to teachers because her own family won't help her, in fact put her in this situation in the first place. I have Moslem (Turkish) relatives, and in fact had a male cousin hiding out here for about six weeks to avoid being pushed into an arranged marriage (he hitchhiked most of the way from Ankara, and managed to land on my doorstep, even though he speaks no German whatsoever), so I guess that's why she called me. I still don't know how she happened to take my home and cell phone numbers with her - out of fear?
My colleague who put her in touch with "Rosa e.V." has friends in the organization, and can certainly arrange for counselling at the very least. I've always pegged the woman as a real manhater because of the way she treats male colleagues, but I suppose she has her reasons, and will be more than willing to help R. It's run by Moslem immigrant and German women.
R. said that she has never felt so alone in her life, so I told her that people here were offering suggestions, telephone numbers and sympathy, and she was so touched that she started crying. She asked me to tell you all that she is very grateful.
post #22 of 49
Wow they are doing a wonderful job for her, how long will she be in the hospital? She is very lucky to have you as a teacher, and a friend. I guess I can understand how that woman is a manhater, after all she has probably seen I would be too, but not all men are like that. I can bet we will all be keeping her in our thoughts, hopeing she comes out of this real safe!
post #23 of 49
Rest assured, there are many more who haven't posted to this thread who are keeping her very close to our hearts right now, myself being one.
post #24 of 49
Originally posted by valanhb
Rest assured, there are many more who haven't posted to this thread who are keeping her very close to our hearts right now, myself being one.
Add two more to that number, as hub and I both have been watching it anxiously ever since it was started......was wishing there was some way to help, but right now prayer is about the only thing I have to offer !
post #25 of 49
The last sentence of your last post, Jcat, brought a knot to my throat. Tell her that no thanks are nescesary, we are just doing what any caring person would do. She is very close to everyone's hearts here.

At least the consulate is pressing, that may have some effect. I am not familiar with the laws of Belgium nor of Germany, but since the age of adulthood often starts at 21, the parents may have a legal responsibility of the matter if this was to get worse, of leaving her in an enviroment, which to their knowledge was deadly. If such a thing is real, then the consulate may be able to really pressure them.

If she is to dissapear, one thing we have to take into account: What languages does she speak? It's obvious she knows German and Arabic, so she can go to Austria or Switzerland. Both are places where she can easily blend in without having to make such an overadjustment to life in a new country.

I really hope that she chooses to disappear, because she cannot go like this.
post #26 of 49
Thread Starter 
They want to keep her in the hospital until they are sure that she won't suffer permanent paralysis because of the spinal injury, but, being aware that she is a victim of spousal abuse, they understand the necessity of getting her out of Brussels. Hubby apparently comes from a very large (and therefore potentially dangerous) family. Air travel isn't an option, according to the hospital. Stuttgart is roughly five hours by car/ambulance from Brussels, provided that the weather is good and there isn't too much traffic. At the moment, Europe is blanketed in snow, but it's supposed to warm up over the next few days. I got some info out of Rascha - she's so doped up with painkillers and upset that she's not too clear at times. And I don't speak/"hear" French, so trying to communicate with those helping her (other than the people at the Consulate) is difficult. If she were in northern Belgium it would be easier - Flemish isn't hard to understand for anybody who can speak German and English. The orthopedic surgeon treating her is also Lebanese, and he apparently called her parents this morning and gave them an earful. He was the one who had her put in intensive care and provided with a telephone, and he just had Rascha give me his email address and cell phone number. I doubt that her parents will listen to me (a female American, and therefore an "infidel"), but one male colleague who can only be described as "honey-tongued" has offered to talk to her parents. The situation is thus: Hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst. Rascha is only 19. She's "of age", and supposedly mistress of her own fate, but .... that simply hasn't worked out in her favor.
post #27 of 49

I speak a little French and can hear it effectively, but I don't know if I could be of any help here in Puerto Rico.
post #28 of 49
Your friend is definately in my prayers. My aunt was in a very abusive marriage and wouldn't leave her husband out of fear, he was killed at work one day and she is a totaly different woman now.

I hope she can escape and live a 'normal' life.

You must be a terrific teacher.

post #29 of 49
Thread Starter 
No news today, other than that her sister is with her. I think Rascha could probably go to any one of several countries, since she speaks Arabic and German fluently, and manages okay in English and French. I know Britain has organizations similar to Rosa e.V., and as an EU citizen she could easily get a residence permit there.
Victor, three women I work with are native French speakers, but thanks for the thought. At the moment it's probably best that only my male German colleague and I are in contact with her family or any officials, despite our lack of French, so that we still have the option of hiding her at least for a short time at one of the other teachers' homes. The fewer names her husband can find out, the better.
post #30 of 49
Jcat, I am sending you a PM, it is about this matter, which I would rather keep private.
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