Homaira Rahman, an Afghan-American, was found face down on the sidewalk as her blood pooled around her and slowly soaked into her chiffon shirt. Ms. Rahman was murdered by her ex-boyfriend after a soccer game in Fairfax, Virginia. After a small dispute between the two, Ms. Rahman’s ex boyfriend stabbed her more than 90 times with a pair of scissors. He was later found fleeing from the scene and sentenced to 20 years in prison. This was a local tragedy that occurred in 2009 that shook the entire Afghan community. Many community members were afraid of the social backlash that might result from the fact that the perpetrator was also Afghan. After 9/11 the Afghan community tried to maintain an image of peace which had now been shattered with the aforementioned tragedy. Rumors spread about violent Afghan men in the surrounding area and stigmas escalated. As a solution, the Afghan community formed the Homaira Rahman Foundation. The organization aims to raise funds for children’s education in Afghanistan and active members volunteer in community outreach programs.
When tragedies occur, we must look at the good that can be made out of the situation. However, we must also ask what is at the root of these violent acts in our society? People within the Afghan community thought that media had a huge part to play in the perpetrator’s actions. He was described by many as enjoying violent video games and movies. Huge technological advances have been made in recent years in television design and production. From high definition screens to 3D in home televisions, technology is rapidly advancing everyday. Video games and movies that sexualize or even idealize violence have led people to become desensitized; thus, making it easier to commit violent acts. In the case of Ms. Rahman, who was stabbed more than 90 times, how does a member of our society become immune to empathy as they stab someone for the 40th or 60th time?
Our society has made violence acceptable through media. Violence directly affects our physical health and indirectly affects our mental health. Through placing different ratings on films and games and actually enforcing them, we can work toward protecting children from watching violence. Another way to decrease violence is to target children who understand the difference between television and reality and promote interventions that decrease violence. These suggestions are a mere silhouette of the ways to decrease violence in our society and promote overall health.
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(author: Hoda Sana)