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Woman makes dramatic flight from Tunisia

The Local · 9 Mar 2011, 15:03

Published: 09 Mar 2011 15:03 GMT+01:00

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Tina Rothkamm fell in love with a local man eleven years ago while on holiday in Tunisia. The two had a daughter together, but the storybook romance did not last long. There was a bitter divorce, a protracted custody battle, and then on Monday, a daring and dangerous escape across the Mediterranean on an overcrowded boat that could have ended in tragedy for Rothkamm and her nine-year-old daughter.

But the 39-year-old teacher from Düsseldorf told public broadcaster ARD that she had to take that chance to finally get her daughter Amira Jasmine out of the clutches of her ex-husband and to a new life in Germany.

“When I saw the spotlights of the Italian coast guard, I cried with happiness,” she said during an impromptu press conference held on Monday night at a hotel on Lampedusa, the Italian island that is often the first stop for refugees from North Africa.

Rothkamm had long been trying to get her daughter out of Tunisia using more traditional means, to no avail. Her ex-husband, who had good connections to the government, did all he could to keep her daughter in Tunisia, despite the fact that Rothkamm and his divorce had been finalized, and one year ago she was given sole custody of their child.

She said every time she tried to leave the country with her daughter, she was turned back at the border, since her husband had pressured customs officials and police to block any departure. At one point, her daughter’s passport was confiscated, she told ARD.

Rothkamm had considered escaping through Libya, but as the situation there become more unstable, she felt it was too dangerous. Her lawyers told her there was no other legal way to leave the country.

On Saturday night, Rothkamm found herself on the beach on Djerba, an island off the coast of Tunisia, where she paid €2,000 for two spots on a boat going to Lampedusa.

At one point during the the early morning hours on Sunday, organizers suddenly said it was time to leave. More than 100 people were packed onto a fishing boat, and Rothkamm and her daughter began waiting out the cold, 20-hour journey on a vessel with no toilets and hardly any food.

“But you do what you have to do,” she told ARD, adding that she'd just hoped the weather didn’t turn bad.

She was relieved that her boat was in relatively good condition - two others that also sailed that night reportedly did not fare as well.

Once on dry land again, Rothkamm showed authorities valid German passports for both her and her daughter, and the two were taken to a hotel before beginning their final, and more comfortable, journey via Rome back to Düsseldorf, where Rothkamm’s new husband and one-year-old son are waiting.

She insisted she will not return to Tunisia, saying the country is corrupt and she never wants to go back to a place from which you have to flee by boat. But she added that when Amira Jasmine gets older, she can decide if she wants to see her father.

Story continues below…

According to daily Die Welt an Italian reporter asked Rothkamm if she was afraid that the sea journey was simply too risky to make with her daughter.

“I had to think for a long time about whether I dared make this dangerous crossing,” she answered. “But there was no other solution in sight.”

“Now I am so happy,” she added. “We are starting on the road of a new life where I have much hope for the future.”

The Local/kdj

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:22 March 9, 2011 by freechoice
the little girl doesn't seems too happy to me, maybe she misses her 'violent' dad..
19:20 March 9, 2011 by fryintl
Ah the clash of the cultures once again. A common theme lately. The Brutal and inflexible Islamic idealism, and the naive outsider who marry's into the culture not knowing a woman is really no one and is nothing more than property to be done with as the husband wants. I do not wish to paint a broad general brush stroke, but I have know three close friends who had family members go through similar things, always the woman getting taken advantage of due to her weaker sex (or as she is seen from another culture's point of view).

How many of these annecdotal stories must we experience before we see that there can be friendship, and maybe some sort of liaison between the cultures, but there are lines that unless each side is willing to change soem and accept the other's point of view, the lines should not be crossed/
21:04 March 9, 2011 by stux
Wow, talk about making a bad life decision. Hopefully high profile cases like this and Obama's mom will help change some girls minds.
21:08 March 9, 2011 by So36
So you're generally against racial mixing or you just have something against Kenyans?
21:19 March 9, 2011 by marie-claire
It must have been so hard to make this decision. Not only the life threatening journey for her and her daughter, but also the thought of leaving a one year old behind. I'm so glad she made it, but I am angry that she had to take those risks.
21:33 March 9, 2011 by fryintl
So36, I read nothing anywhere against kenyans. But pot stirring always serves the left's mission. Show the facts, where teh Anti Kenyan and anti cultural mixing is stated above, please?
21:43 March 9, 2011 by OkieinBerlin
fryintl, are you purposely naive, or sarcastic, or plain dumb? you can't see the snide, racist little jab in stux' comment? it's a pretty lame effort, really.
22:45 March 9, 2011 by stux
How about you stop being the racists, where did I say anything about race?
23:08 March 9, 2011 by So36
So you're not racist, just thick?
23:16 March 9, 2011 by happyagain
I am from the US. There is a lot of violence in the homes.

Husbands beating/killing wives and children. Sadly, this is nothing new. It does not matter what your background is.
00:01 March 10, 2011 by wenddiver
@happyagain- Stop kidding yourself. You can only speak for yourself, your home. I suspect that you are Muslim. Few countries in the world have such harsh penalties for domestic violence as the US. The prison terms in some states are right up there with the penalty for murder in some liberal countries.

Any woman who feels she would be better treated in a Muslim home than a US home is welcome to go try it, we are after all, a free country and failing/bad decisions is part of Freedom.
01:07 March 10, 2011 by derExDeutsche
@ So36

Frank Marshall Davis was a Kenyan? Huh, you learn something new everyday.

and, its no secret that women find themselves in this predicament quite often. This is not the first time, nor the last, I will hear this story. Sad, but they can't say nobody warned them. Which is what they will say about Europe in general one day.
08:04 March 10, 2011 by marimay

In denial, much?

Your harsh penalties do not deter domestic violence, sorry. Watch the news. Look at your influential television programs. Look at the high number of people incarcerated, for whatever reason. Not a whole lot of good going on there.

Maybe the US needs harsh penalties because abuse is so rampant? lol

Btw, I am american, but I do not wear a government and media issued blindfold.
08:24 March 10, 2011 by LiberalGuy
I hate for facts to get in the way of a good story, but for wendiver and fryintl here you are

A few i googled in a couple of minutes.

2002 43% of all murders in the USA were committed by family members.

2005 1181 women were murdered by an intimate partner in the USA.

The links: http://www.now.org/issues/violence/stats.html


Now I appreciate you are ignorant and racist so i won't try convert you to common sense. But domestic violence is a scurge of ALL cultures. Not just Islam. Why you would choose to turn a story of one woman's courage to escape a horrible situation as a means to spread your 'propoganda' is beyond me.

Can't you put down the hate for once and act like a compassionate human being??

I guess not....
08:30 March 10, 2011 by OkieinBerlin
stux, that's my point -- so many loudmouths from the crackpot right, after slinging their slime around, are either too dull to recognize the implications of their words, or they don't have the guts to defend them. Which is it?
08:55 March 10, 2011 by wenddiver
@Islamists- Do you really believe anybody in the world believes that Women in Muslim countries are treated better in Muslim countries than the US. Keep kidding yourselves, at least while you are at the computer your not blowing yourself up. Arranged Marriages, can't drive a car, a religion that sanctions the husband beating the wife, stoing for adultry, etc, etc.

I'll go a step farther every Woman in the West has it better than Muslim women. Your homes are the prisons your women are locked in.

The National Organization of Womn is hardly an unbiased organaztion, being slightly to the left of Communism. By the way there are over 300 Million Legal Residents in the US. Of course if you really believe the garbage they put out , I highly encourage you to stay out of the US.

In the end the story is about another Westerner ESCAPING a violent Muslim marriage and their awful countries, not Europe or the US. Reality, Live with it.
08:58 March 10, 2011 by marimay
What a cuckoo bird.
09:18 March 10, 2011 by LiberalGuy

When are you going home?? Please say it's soon.

I couldn't imagine a living in a place where someone like you, who so easily brushes aside violence against women (as long as it's western violence) lives as my neighbour. That really scares me. I would fear for my beautiful blond german wife with someone like you around.
09:57 March 10, 2011 by stux
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
10:25 March 10, 2011 by happyagain
Hello everyone,

No I am no Muslim. I was raised in a Christian home.

All you have to do is read the numbers.

You should read the American papers the Internet. A lot of this domestic violence is not reported to the police or help agencies.
12:09 March 10, 2011 by tallady
OkieinBerlin,,now see what you have done ... stux's comment has been removed by the" Local Gremlins" who's motto is( if your not sure of the meaning sensor it...)
13:42 March 10, 2011 by LecteurX
To Wenddiver, Stux, fryintl, derExDeutsche and all other racist loonies posting here: by your "logic", what do the stories of Natascha Kampusch, Josef Fritzl (and his daughter Elisabeth), that other horrible story of incest revealed in Rhineland a couple of months ago tell us about incest in Germany and Austria "in general"?

If I were to "reason" the way you do, I'd jump to the conclusion that keeping girls prisoner for years (possibly, your own daughter) and raping them regularly is just a normal feature of women's condition in Germany and Austria I guess.
14:12 March 10, 2011 by michaelhol
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
14:26 March 10, 2011 by OkieinBerlin
tallady, maybe the gremlins didn't understand his meaning; more likely they just deleted a profane or threatening rant... who knows?
15:07 March 10, 2011 by tallady
good point OkieinBerlin,maybe so. That would be my take on it also.
16:34 March 10, 2011 by stux
Actually it had a URL in it, I had never posted before.

I really do not know what I said that was racist. I like how all of you see yourselves as morally superior. Please tell me what I said was racist in addition to how even if I did make a racist statement it would make all other arguments I have void.

The page I referenced is on "The American Thinker" and titled "The truth about Muslim-Christian marriages".

Thanks for bringing race into everything that is mentioned on these forums. I guess being "Muslim" is now a race. I am sure all the Arabs in the U.S. applying for benefits, jobs, and college would be happy.

Many people of Arabic decent in the U.S. are mad that they have to put "Caucasian" on their applications since it is a handicapp.
16:46 March 10, 2011 by snowey
Silly woman,marrying a Muslim. What did she expect!
18:47 March 10, 2011 by tallady
stux,,don't make all these generalizations ,I was in your corner when you threatened us with withdrawing from the Local threads.. I hope I was not remiss.
20:52 March 10, 2011 by derExDeutsche
I like lecteurXs' point, minus the calling everybody a racist part.

@ Stux, you can't be so sensitive on this blog. There is a war of ideas and morals going on. And this Blog is up on the battle lines. Lots and lots of Muslims, and those that believe that appeasement is the solution.

So, no crying in Baseball...
15:44 March 11, 2011 by stux
@tallady - which generalizations? Me not wanting to post here is more due to how futile the whole thing feels. You can't post links to support any argument you take which makes the whole debate just the typical right vs. left banter.

@derExDeutsche - I like your "no crying in Baseball" quote and that you see this as the front line, but it is more like "behind enemy lines". I have a hard time believing these posts matter. I have been participating for a couple weeks and every day I ask myself why even bother. All that people like OkieinBerlin do is call others that disagree with them racist.

If you look at my first post it says nothing about Muslims or race.

This article is about neither. This article is about a woman who probably fell in love with some rich power Moroccan while on vacation/visiting Morocco. She likely turned a blind side to the fact that he had money and influence through the overall corruption of the country.

When their marriage ended she was surprised that the very system that made him attractive to her also prevented her from getting her daughter back.

I would post URL¦#39;s to some interesting pages, but I cannot due to the Local¦#39;s Policy. This is from International-divoreDOTcom.

Note ­ Muslim women are only allowed to marry Muslim men. Muslim men can marry anyone other than a Muslim that converted to something else. This is because the Muslim man has control of the marriage and his wife. Some also consider this a version of race war, like Jews only selling property to other Jews.

The American Thinker article on Christian-Muslim marriages is worth a read.

Mixed Marriages

With few exceptions, a Christian or Jew who marries a Muslim and resides in an Islamic country will be subject to provisions of Islamic family law in that country. In these circumstances:

-- Any children born to the wife will be considered Muslim. They will usually also be considered citizens of the father's country.

-- The husband's permission is always needed for the children to leave an Islamic country despite the fact that the children will also have, for example, American citizenship. Foreign immigration authorities can be expected to enforce these regulations. The ability of U.S. consular officers to aid an American woman who wishes to leave the country with her children is very limited.

-- The wife may be divorced by her husband at any time with little difficulty and without a court hearing.

-- At a certain point in age, the children will come under the custody of the father or his family.

-- In Islamic countries, the wife will need the permission of her husband to leave the country.
22:57 March 11, 2011 by wenddiver
Doing something so uterly ignorant, is this woman sane enough to raise a child. Most of North Africa and the Middle-East is hell come to life for a normal person. What's the matter were there no canibals looking for a spouse. Somebody should take her passport away before she hurts herself.
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