Rape Victim Forsaken by Family
An eight year old girl who was raped in a shed in Phoenix, Arizona by four boys is now in foster care. The girl is from Liberia and had moved with her family to the United States when she was younger. The four boys, aged nine, ten, thirteen, and fourteen are reportedly from the same village as the victim. The younger three are charged as juveniles with sexual assault, while the fourteen year old boy is facing charges as an adult. In addition, the ten, thirteen, and fourteen-year-olds have also been charged with kidnapping.
Allegedly, her family has shunned and rejected her which led to her placemnet in the system. "Police say the girl's father told a police officer and a Child Protective Services worker that he doesn't want her anymore." (AP) This claim has been contested by a man who identified himself as two of the suspects' uncle: "We are from West Africa. We are well-behaved people. We are trained people. It is our culture to respect," Goe said." (AP)
The youths all come from a civil war torn nation that has yet to fully recover from all of the violence. There have been many stories and reports of combatants on both sides of the conflict pilaging villages and acting however they so please. Stigmas exist to this day that the victims are often at fault for their plight. Needless to say that Liberia is not the only country to experience this problem. In most places of the world this bigoted stigma exists in some form and is held as true by a marginal percentage of the populace.
In recent years the political leasdership of Liberia has worked hard to eradicate this cancerous stigma. They believe that doing so is neccesary for the country to continue healing and developing into a successful nation. Current President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has gone so far as to publicly acknowledge that she was among those who were raped during the civil war. Such an announcement would hold the potential to ruin a young girl's life. Monica Westin, who founded World Hope International in order to promote human rights has been quoted by the Associated Press as saying: "It's always the girl's fault ... There's no gender equality."
Whether the family rejected the victim or not is a horrifying subject with an outcome yet to be determined. Even if they did not specifically come out and state their stance, the fact that the girl is now in foster care leaves plenty of room for speculation. The recovery process from this type of traumatic event is only made more tedious and complex due to feelings of isolation and abandonment. The inability to trust others and to deal with all of the guilt and shame is not aided by this girls's seperation from her family. This event will leave the girl scarred and with baggage to deal with for the rest of her life.
It is a sad occurence that in the aftermath of this all, the girl is in foster care even though her relatives are perfectly capable to take care of her. It is a situation that will leave her asking herself "Why?" and will most likely add to her shame. I hope that someone will step up when the time is right to fill the void that has been left by those closest to her. I am fortunate enough to know that no mater what I may do or what happens to me, I can always come home, where I will be greeted with open arms. I wish that this girl would have the same assurance, and it sickens me to see that that is not at all the case.