Friday, March 11, 2011

11 Year Old Girls Never Deserve To Be Raped So What Gives You The Right To Blame The Child?

Several news sources including CNN, ABC News, The New York Times and others have written about the 11 year old girl from Cleveland, TX.  The headlines have claimed the rape of this girl has split the community while inferring the that the girl and/or her parents and/or way she dressed and/or lack of supervision was the reason she was raped.  It's the old "she must've been asking for it" excuse and people are buying into it.  The NY Times article by James McKinley Jr. quotes one neighbor as asking:  “Where was her mother? What was her mother thinking?”   

(My best guess (and hope) is that the victim's mother was at work trying to earn a living to support her family.  These days, thats pretty common.  The working classes don't have the luxury of being stay at home moms these days.  My mind wanders and I wonder why no one asked where the girls father was, but those things are beside the point.)

The girl was 11 years old.  

  • She's not an adult.  
  • She's not an adolescent.  
  • She IS a child.  

As a child, there a lot of things she lacks.  Developmentally, she is not equipped mentally, emotionally or spiritually to handle sex.  She is legally incompetent to give consent to have sex under 'normal' circumstances.  We as a society recognize this.  We know that a child of 11 years is not able to fully understand all the nuances, including long term 10-20, 30 years down the road consequences that go into giving "full and informed consent' regarding sex. The state of Texas says the age of consent is 17.  It's that simple. These Texas Statutes define the state's position on child sexual abuse and rape:  

Reading the statutes you see that it does not matter one iota whether the girl dressed up trying to emulate her favorite celebrities.  It does not matter if she was un-or-undersupervised.  It does not matter whether she talked sassy or talked smack or talked like a choir-girl or like a guttersnipe.  What DOES matter that she was 11 years old and 18 men forced themselves on and into her body and raped her.  They took videos of themselves raping her!  Those videos are how they were caught.    

This is not a Romeo and Juliet thing with a teenage girl and boy, both over 14 and within three years of each other's ages.  Per the NY Times article, force and threats were used and this information was also reported by CNN: amongst other news agencies.

I also wonder whether if this gang rape had a more sinister motive: Were they raping her to 'turn her out' so they could traffick her as a child prostitute.  Are the authorities even considering that as part of their investigation?  From the reporting, we know some of the men also were known to the police for involvement with drugs and drug trafficking, so them taking the step over to human trafficking isn't exactly improbable.  

This is a heartbreaking story and the galling thing is how few people, if any,  in the mainstream media are asking: "Where were the parents of the boys and men who raped that girl?  And why weren't the those boys and men taught that rape is wrong under any circumstance?"   After all, 18 males participated in raping a child and not one person from the mainstream media has seen fit to ask:  "What's wrong with these guys?  What's wrong with their thinking?  What's wrong with them that they'd participate in raping a child?"  Instead, the reporter from the NYT notes,  " Sheila Harrison, 48, a hospital worker who says she knows several of the defendants. “These boys have to live with this the rest of their lives.”  That's a pretty stellar failure on the part of the NY Times, James McKinney Jr, and his bosses.

Excuse me???  What about the girl?  What about the 11 year old girl who did not deserve to be raped?  What planet are you all from?

I have yet to hear anyone in the mainstream media ask, "What about the girl?"  I'm not in the mainstream media but I want to know:  What about the girl?  What happens to her? Who is looking out for her best interests?

Sadly I can begin to imagine what she went through as I was also raped as a child.  It has been over 44 years and I still have times when I have to re-process that experience.  People never get over having been raped.  This girl is in for a lifetime of work on herself to have any kind of decent relationship with herself, with her family and community.  She will face more personal self-work as she grows into young adulthood and has to face issues about her sexual identity, issues of intimacy with whoever she partners with.  

Being a rape survivor will impinge on her relationships over the course of her lifetime.  Given the community's response of blaming her, she will be challenged to assert her own personal dignity without feeling shame.  I pray for her.  I pray that her family's love and care for her will help her develop into a mentally and emotionally healthy woman over the next 8 years or so.  I pray she will be able to transcend this horrible experience and make something beautiful of her life for decades to come.

Sadly for one child, Cleveland, Texas, USA is a town without pity, a town without shame, a town without mercy.  And the sad truth is, that is true of a lot of cities here and abroad.  Why is that?

1 comment:

Katherine said...

thank you. praying too.