A little girl was raped in our neighborhood a few months ago. She is a child with a mental handicap and so, even though we didn’t know her until this happened, she’s one of ours.

The bare bones of the story (and all our bones feel bared still- naked and vulnerable) are these: the child’s mother asked her brother’s tutor to take her and the brother to their grandmother’s house on his bicycle, a short distance from their home. The tutor gave the boy ten rupees and sent him off on his own, then took the girl into the forest and raped her for the next two hours. When he brought her home, bleeding profusely, he said they had been in an accident. When the bleeding didn’t stop, the parents brought the child into the hospital. There they were told it had been no accident: this was a rape, intentional and deliberate.

This is where we came in.

The police were nowhere on the case. The rapist’s father was a truck driver for a cement company and there is, apparently – who knew? – a cement mafia. This busy, important group of concerned citizens had swung into action and produced one certificate saying the rapist was 14; another that he was 17. A juvenile. A child. Not responsible for his actions.

Oh yes! Let’s all gather around the perpetrator of the crime. Let’s support HIM.

The little girl, meanwhile, was in surgery. 23 stitches in her vagina to stop the bleeding and put her back together.

There are a million things to say about this but for some reason, the one that keeps coming back to me is the child’s simple, matter-of-fact description of what he did to her: without anger or bitterness (the word to describe her tone would be sad), she told exactly what had happened. My heart lurched when I heard her say how he bent her legs at the knees and pushed them up.

So specific. So concrete. Her body. His brutal assault. Her legs, stretched out, were in his way. He bent them and pushed them up, the better to use her. She was nothing. She was nobody. Her legs were in his way.

It was the purest, most unadorned description of rape I have ever come across.

And really? Sometimes? Sometimes I just don’t know how we get through a day, let alone a lifetime. So much violence, so much brutality, so much evil. We search desperately for the light; we look for it in the craziest corners and, God help us, we discover it in the most unlikely places.

This child’s rape inspired a rage and and a desire for justice in several individuals. They are working quietly and in the background but this is how it happens. This is how we become the change this world so desperately requires.

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  • Peter Phun

    What a terrible show of support by the men involved. I have to wonder if any of them have daughters or can empathize at all with the victim. Very sad to read this, Jo. So much evil. Sometimes closing our eyes to it just makes it worse. I salute you for writing about it however difficult it is

  • Sheryl

    the heart twists as a soul in a grave with the utter “inhumane – ness” the world is headed to. Who to trust? who to believe? Numerous questions yet the answers evade. Sometimes there are only two options left – fight it or forget it.

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