On Jan. 15, Gloria Huang, age 8, died. Of what is a question that sits at the root of this story, along with the where: Qatar. The girl was the adopted daughter of Matthew and Grace Huang, Americans who had been living in the Gulf nation for about six months with Gloria and their two boys, also adopted; Matthew, an engineer, was hired to work on a project related to the 2022 World Cup. Gloria hadn't eaten anything in the days before her death, which the Huangs attributed to eating issues: They say the child would go days without eating and then binge. What Qatari officials attribute it to is something else entirely: They allege that the Huangs intentionally kept food from the girl in an effort to kill her and profit off her organs, and are seeking the death penalty, per a website created in defense of the couple.
The Huangs' lawyers will tomorrow for the first time be allowed to make their case to a judge, and the New York Times today looks at the case against them, and the racial and cultural misunderstandings at play. Gloria was adopted from Ghana at age 4, notes AP, and experts say the hunger she encountered as a very young child can translate into an eating disorder. That place of origin seemed to matter to Qatari investigators as well; their report stated that the Huangs "participated with others in child trafficking, most likely to either sell their organs or to conduct medical experiments on them." When asked to elaborate on the trafficking charge in a court hearing, one explained that "the adoption process consists of searching for children who are good-looking and well-behaved ... but the children connected to this incident are all from Africa." For the full story head to the Times, which points out that multiracial families are rare and adoption all but unheard of in Qatar.