Tuesday, August 09, 2011

No Child Deserves Rape.

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 and working poor 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.
http://penalcode.austintexascriminaldefense.com/21.11.html, http://penalcode.austintexascriminaldefense.com/22.011.html and
http://penalcode.austintexascriminaldefense.com/22.021.html so, it does not matter one freaking iota whether the girl dressed up trying to emulate her favorite celebrities.  It doesn't matter if she was under-or-unsupervised.  It doesn't matter whether she talked sassy, talked smack, talked back, talked like a guttersnipe or whether she was quiet, softspoken, self-effacing or what.  That doesn't matter.

What DOES matter is that she was 11 years old and 18 men forced themselves on and into her body and raped her.

This is not a Romeo and Juliet thing where the girl and boy were over 14 and within three years of each other's ages.  Per the NY Times article force and threats were used against her:   http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/09/us/09assault.html .   Along with other news agencies, that information was also reported by CNN:    http://www.cnn.com/2011/CRIME/03/07/texas.rape.arrests/index.html?iref=allsearch.

This is a heartbreaking story.  The galling thing is how few in the mainstream media are asking "Where were the parents of the boys and men who raped that girl?"  They're not asking "Why weren't the those boys and men taught that rape is wrong under any circumstance?"   Eighteen males participated in raping a child yet, to date,  not one person in the mainstream media has asked "What's wrong with these guys?"

I do 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?  Based on news reports, we do know some of the men concerned inthis case have been involved in drug trafficking.  It is also known that drug traffickers are switching to human trafficking.

Still, no one in the mainstream media is asking "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?

As this story progressed, one Florida state representative, Kathleen Passidomo, introduced legislation to require school uniforms with the idea that a school dress code would prevent similar things happening to Florida students.  Huffington Post quoted her as saying:

"There was an article about an 11 year old girl who was gangraped in Texas by 18 young men because she was dressed like a 21-year-old prostitute," Passidomo declared.  "And her parents let her attend school like that. And I think it's incumbent upon us to create some areas where students can be safe in school and show up in proper attire so what happened in Texas doesn't happen to our students," she added."

Those comments moved me to write to Ms. Passidomo because of her blame the victim stance and the idea that school uniforms will prevent child rape is naive - at best.  She clearly has no experience with child rape issues. Her reply to me was defensive, claiming that she has been involved with a local woman's shelter.  She clearly has no personal experience with rape and its long term impact on a girl or woman. 

Rep. Passidomo's response to me about her 'involvement' in a local women's shelter led me to search out her connection to the shelter. I found out her connection was solely in a fund raising capacity.  Ms. Passidomo was not in the trenches there as a rape counselor.  She was not in the trenches as a guardian ad litem for child rape victims of sexual abuse.  In fact, as an attorney, Rep. Passidomo's areas of practice are:  corporate law, business law, real estate law and banking law.  Hardly areas of law that represent the interests of crime victims - certainly not women and children.  However she was involved in the punishment side of juvenile justice, being a founding chair of the Southwest Florida Juvenile Justice Council. So to my thinking, that does NOT make her an expert on helping women and children who've been raped or otherwise sexually exploited.  It just means she helped 'throw money' at the problem and hews to an old fashioned mindset that rape victims are delinquent children.  Certainly it let her 'blame the victim' and capitalize on it with a disingenuous 'dress code' law in her own state.  Whee. 

One thing is for sure.  Months after the fact, in Cleveland, TX,  people care far more about the popular football player and other men who raped the child than give two spits for the kid herself.  Because 'she dressed provocatively'.  Lemme tell ya, folks.  There's a bigger problem with the people in Cleveland, TX who raised those men and their supporters than with the parents of that 11 year old girl. 

And actually -- no one deserves to be raped.  Simple as that.

*This is not a new post, by the way.  I drafted it several months ago, but with the change in Blogger at that point it did not get put up the way I wanted it to.

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