Missing Skokie Teenager Found
Incident sparks debate about arranged marriage, clash of cultures.
A Skokie teenager who went missing last month after fleeing from her family has been found early Wednesday.
Zaineb S. Chaudhary, 16, "was found to be safe and unharmed" in the "early hours" of April 20, according to the Skokie Police Department.
"Authorities are currently in the process of interviewing Zaineb to ascertain the exact circumstances surrounding her disappearance," the statement said.
Earlier, it was reported that the Niles North High School student may have fled to El Monte, Calif., and met up a 39-year-old man that she met on the Internet.
So far, no criminal charges are anticipated related to that event, police said.
Because Chaudhary is a juvenile, police said no further information is available at this time.
Skokie police added that they are working with local social service agencies "to ensure that her family issues along with her mental and physical well-being are addressed appropriately."
Skokie Patch also tried to get a statement from the Chaudhary family, but they asked not to be interviewed.
It has been reported that Chaudhary, who is of Muslim faith, left home to avoid an arranged marriage.
A journalist from Karachi, Pakistan told Skokie Patch in an email interview that contrary to the popular knowledge, "forced marriages" have "no religious roots."
"Immigrant parents sometimes find it hard to let go of their children to the foreign culture," journalist Sarah Alvi said.
"Chaudhary's case also reflects the kind of identity crisis many second generation immigrants go through when they can no longer relate to the social and cultural norms of their home country and their elders are not ready to accept the change," Alvi added.
Alvi also pointed out that "it is interesting to note how Chaudhary did not approach the police to seek help immediately and has instead gone missing."
The article reported that Chaudhary’s father visited his homeland of Pakistan in October to arrange the marriage of his daughter.
Chaudhary disappeared last month, and left home voluntarily as the result of tensions caused by difference with her parents, according to police. Her last contact with friends was the following day, when she sent a text to one of her friends.
Police noted that Chaudhary’s actions could be viewed as a disgrace by her family.
“She can come to us and we’re going to make sure that she’s taken care of and that she can feel safe while returning or contact us,” Tammy Jacobsen, an officer with the Skokie Police Department, told Fox News. “We have a girl, raised here in the United States, being raised here in a different culture than where her parents are from, trying to accept the Western ways here.”
Police added that Chaudhary’s family could view her actions as a severe sign of disrespect, and that she could face an “honor crime,” according to Fox News.
Police said the teen may have fled to El Monte, Calif., and met up a 39-year-old man that she met on the Internet.
The Skokie police, in conjunction with the Illinois State Police, have investigated numerous leads, and have made exhaustive efforts to find Chaudhary. Local, state-wide and national resources have been utilized, to include localized law enforcement Critical Reach Bulletins, contacting agencies in other states, and nationally via the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Chaudhary is described as Pakistani, 5-foot-4, 123 lbs. with long black hair. Anyone with information should contact the Skokie Police Department at 847-982-5900.