“An 8 year old Liberian girl was raped and assaulted by 4 boys in Arizona. They lured her into a shed with a promise of bubble gum and took turns raping and assaulting her.”
I felt my heart drop as the voice of the news reporter echoed through my house. My body became heavy and the tears that formed in my eyes prevented me from speaking. This was not my first time hearing about rape, but this time it was different. She was an 8 year old Liberian girl; I was an 18 year old Liberian woman. The young boys that committed this heinous crime were all Liberian. My mother looked at me, quietly let out a sigh and increased the volume on the TV.
The news reporter continued, “The mother of the 8 year old girl asked police to take her daughter away because she has brought shame on the family by reporting the rape. Even though evidence proves that her daughter was indeed raped, the mother of the girl insists that nothing happened to her daughter and she was not touched by anyone.” As my parents stared at the TV in disbelief, I slowly rose from the bed to leave. As I walked out the room I heard the news reporter interviewing the little girl’s sister, “I said to her: It’s not good for you to be following guys because you’re still little”, she said, “She always brings trouble.” I could feel my legs trembling and my heart pounding out of my chest. My body filled with anger as I thought about the loneliness, humiliation, and exclusion that this child was experiencing.
This is an example of victim blaming, one that Africa suffers from. The continent is heavily drenched in rape culture and our daughters continue to face gruesome sexual attacks. According to Interpol, South Africa has the highest number of declared rapes in the world, with nearly half of the victims younger than 18. In 2009, a nationwide survey was conducted by the country’s Medical Research Council in which one in four men questioned said they had raped someone. Nearly half of them admitted more than one attack. These statistics are appalling but what is even more appalling is our continent’s reaction to rape and the victims. According to South African Police Department, only one out of 36 of these rapes are reported and of these, only 15% result in any form of conviction.
Real men don’t talk about their sexual conquests or call a woman out of her name. My father once told me “No matter if a woman is sinner or a saint when you lay with her you become her equal. So no matter what you feel about them, it’s also a reflection of yourself.