Thursday, August 20, 2009
By Joshua Rhett Miller,
A 17-year-old girl who fled to Florida after converting from Islam to Christianity will almost certainly be forced to return home to Ohio, experts say -- despite her fears that she will become the victim of an honor killing for abandoning her parents' faith.
Rifqa Bary, who hitchhiked to an Ohio bus station earlier this month and took a charter bus to Orlando, remains in protective custody with Florida's Department of Children and Families. A judge is expected to rule Friday on the jurisdiction of the case, but several legal experts contacted by FOXNews.com say the girl is bound to be sent back to Ohio.
"She'll be returned to the original jurisdiction," said Katherine Hunt Federle, professor of law and director of the Justice for Children Project at Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law.
"She probably doesn't have a lot of options other than to return home."
Bary, a native of Sri Lanka who turned 17 earlier this month, is neither a U.S. citizen nor a resident of Florida, so if her parents want her returned to their home in New Albany, Ohio, that likely will occur, experts said.
"She's living and residing in Ohio," Federle said. "Typically, what happens is, if a child runs away and goes to another jurisdiction, she'll be returned to the original jurisdiction."