One of whom was her cousin. She's been lured into a home to run an errand, locked in a room when her mom was away, grabbed and forced. The boys gave her 20 shillings once, and 5 shillings another time (a few pennies), which probably made her feel even more violated. She sits kicking her red shoes back and forth, fingering a muffin into crumbs, quietly telling her story, restlessly, slowly. She and her friends have all been beaten by parents for reporting such stories. Last night, though, when she told her mom again, her mother saw the soiled clothes and heard her sobbing, and believed her, and stormed out to confront her sister's teenage son. Who did not deny it. And shorty afterward the mom's sister, the perpetrator's mother, the victim's aunt . . . showed up at Little Miss Red Shoe's house and beat her again. To keep her quiet.
But this time she was not quiet. She and her mother reported to the police, and then the hospital. The MO, who is a gentle, careful young woman, and I coaxed enough of the story out to be outraged, and then got a pastoral counselor, a community pillar, a respected grandmotherly type from the church to come and listen. Just the person we needed, who will mobilize reaction even if the police do not. We sent off tests and filled out reports. We listed the names and classes of the other girls, so they can all be drawn in by this lady for counseling.
The raping 15-year-old boy is in custody, but his family is well off, and likely to sway the police in their favor. They followed Little Miss Red Shoes and her mother to the hospital and tried to convince the senior nurse not to pursue the case. Instead he helped me arrange for a security escort to bring the report safely back to the police.
I grieve deeply that any nine-year-old girl should live in fear of her own relatives and neighbors. Should have her tiny innocent body violated. She wanted us to give her medicine that she could take so the boys would leave her alone. Her world is not safe. Her mother is thinking of sending her away to live with another relative, so she won't have to see this boy at school.
It is easy to think that such stories are rare, or exaggerated, or distant. But this one was real, and matter-of-fact, and right in our neighborhood.
So tonight please pray for JUSTICE, for Little Miss Red Shoes and the countless little African girls (and others all over the world) who are raped, beaten, blamed, sold. Lord have mercy on them.