Guest Author - Gina Cowley
A dear friend advised lately that I may be ambivalent. I have considered this possibility and must concur without equivocation that I am – indeed – ambivalent. While there is always a dash of flux to my simultaneous conflict I do concede for the most part – I am torn the majority of the time over many things including the application of law.
Consider the case of Saiqa Akhter who very recently killed her sons and called 911 after so doing. Ms. Akhter advised law enforcement that she attempted to get her boys to drink bathroom cleaner and when they refused she strangled them with a wire. Ms. Akhter allegedly told law enforcement that she killed her children – ages two and five - because they were autistic; she wanted “normal” children; and that she has no remorse for what she has done. She does not appear to be ambivalent about her crime. And that’s ok. Conviction is a good thing – and courage in one’s convictions, while others may not agree, is always an admirable quality to be sure.
The collective ambivalence of our national community has begun with regards to Ms. Akhter. Some are making the murders an autism issue to wit: this is a mother who finally broke under the sheer strain of raising autistic children - she received neither the assistance nor support she needed and what happened is ultimately the fault of others. Some are making it a women’s issue wherein the death penalty is concerned – this crime occurred in Texas and Ms. Akhter has been charged with capital murder. Interestingly enough, the father in Arizona who ran down and killed his daughter – Noor Almaleki – last October for being “too westernized” will not face the death penalty for his crime. And so across the nation, there is a collective societal ambivalence wherein the application of law is concerned – prosecutorial discretion or judicial wisdom some may call it – politics even.
The tragic fact is that mothers kill their children with grave frequency for a variety of reasons. These crimes are fodder for the masses to digest, discuss, pontificate and upon which often rests new policy, new programs, new ways of handling those in our communities whom quite frankly – the majority of us really do not care to be around or to have around those we hold dear subsequent to the commission of their crimes. I can honestly say Ms. Akhter may very well be a mental case – it appears she obviously considered having “normal” children to replace the two she killed as a distinct future possibility for herself. This alone indicates a diseased mind and so as a civilized society are we bound to offer her the services she needs to cope with her actions – to help her – while holding her accountable? After all – it is only an intact coping mechanism that keeps many mothers from the abyss. On the other hand, there is a possibility Ms. Akhter is quite sane – her kids were absolutely difficult, time consuming and caused her a great deal of stress. She grew tired and she rid herself of them – claiming “they are no more” in her 911 call. In that case, what if anything can ever be done for her – should be done for her - that will keep others safe if she is around?
Where am I with my own ambivalence this morning? Well, I’m fluxing. At this moment, there is not one doubt in my mind as to what should become of Ms. Akhter for killing her children and of what I am quite certain the State of Texas will accomplish where she is concerned. Her gender does not entitle her to any special consideration whatsoever. But – give me a few hours – I may flux the other way and decide that Ms. Akhter’s status as a human being – does. I am after all, just an ambivalent girl – raised in an ambivalent America.