Moral Low Ground

Society

Baraa Melhem, Palestinian Woman, Locked in Bathroom for 10 Years by Abusive Israeli Father Hassan Melhem

A 21-year-old Palestinian woman has been freed from a horrific nightmare in which her Israeli Arab father beat her and kept her locked in a tiny bathroom for ten whole years.

Free at last. (Photo: AP)

Reuters reports that Baraa Melhem of Qalqilya, in the occupied West Bank, was imprisoned in a tiny bathroom in her home by 49-year-old Hassan Melhem when she was 11 years old. Mr. Melhem, who holds Israeli citizenship, beat her with a baton and metal wires, gave her only one blanket to keep warm, fed her mainly bread and encouraged her to kill herself with a razor blade he provided. Baraa was not permitted to attend school or see her mother, who her father had divorced when she was four years old. She was allowed out of her cell every night from 1am to 4am so she could clean the house.

“People are monsters,” she said her father would tell her.

Palestinian police freed Baraa from her bathroom prison on Saturday after receiving an anonymous tip. Her father and his wife were arrested and handed over to Israeli police. He will appear in an Israeli court on Wednesday. According to Palestinian police sources, he has admitted to locking his daughter up and feeding her mostly bread.

“The bathroom was only 1-1/2 meters big, it was like a cell,” social worker Hala Shreim told Reuters.

“Her only consolation was a radio which kept her connected to the world,” she added.

Baraa has now been reunited with her mother.

“She told me that she loves life and has to live,” Shreim said of the freed young woman.

“I have joy now,” Baraa told the Associated Press. “My life has begun.”

As for her father, “I don’t hate [him],” she told the AP. “But I hate what he did to me. Why did he do it? I don’t understand.”

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