This post contains graphic descriptions of violence, including rape and mutilation.
Yesterday I wrote about one woman’s attempts to ban Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved from her children’s high school curriculum. I wrote about the necessity of facing terrible things, as a duty to our fellow human beings who’ve experienced the horror of violence. Terrible things such as the following:
The gang-rape, mutilation, and murder of a 17 year old girl in South Africa.
Anene Booysen was reportedly lured away from her friends and raped by a group of men. She was badly mutilated and left for dead on a building site in the town of Bredasdorp, 80 miles east of Cape Town, and found by a security guard on Saturday morning.
Hospital staff who fought to save her life were given counselling because of the horrific nature of her injuries, local media said. Before she died, Anene identified her former boyfriend as one of her attackers. He and another man have been detained, and police say more arrests are likely.
From an article by Sisonke Msimang in the Mail and Guardian:
I read an article on Thursday morning. It said: ”The victim had been sliced open from her stomach to her genitals and dumped.” The radio is full of this story. Full of politicians and posers, trying to outdo one another. Like funeral criers. But it will end, the show. And there will be marches and petitions. There will be statements and rage. But it will happen again. Until we are inured to shock. It will happen again. Until our bones are worn into dust and our teeth crushed into the sand. It will happen and happen. Until we invent a way to stop being women. Until we find a way for our blood to no longer bleed between our legs. As long as we exist, we will be raped…
Anene was raped and mutilated because she was a girl. It was her vagina and her breasts that they wanted to destroy. It was her walk and her talk. It was her girl-ness. These parts of her were broken and sliced and pulled apart, not by monsters, but by friends. Each of her 10 fingers were broken…
Anene’s mother said that if she hadn’t seen her shoes, she wouldn’t have known that it was her own child. Her intestines? Her intestines.
You’re not supposed to recognize your daughter’s intestines. It is so unspeakably wrong, so unutterably out of order. What does this signify, the desire to damage someone so badly their body is turned inside out? What is this hate?
What is the hate that drives a village in Papua New Guinea to burn a woman alive on suspicion of witchcraft?
The 20-year-old mother of one was murdered on Wednesday after being stripped naked, tortured with a hot iron rod, bound, doused in petrol, and set on fire on a rubbish heap in the Western Highlands capital of Mt Hagen.
Police say she was accused of sorcery by relatives of a six-year-old boy who died in Mt Hagen hospital the day before.
“No one commits such a despicable act in the society that all of us, including Kepari, belong to,” Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said in a statement.
But they just did, Prime Minister. People did this. And then they took pictures of it.
Reports in the local press say police tried to stop the killing, but were chased off by the crowd…
Both of PNG’s daily national newspapers carried the story on their front pages with the headline “Burnt Alive” accompanied by a picture of a burning mass on a rubbish heap surrounded by a crowd of onlookers – including children.
In the picture, amid the smoke and the flame, burning tyres could be seen, along with people taking pictures on their mobile phones.
This woman was literally thrown on a rubbish heap and burned, while people stood by and took pictures of her agonizing last moments. What hate, what reckless hate.
Then there’s the case of the 5 year old girl in Saudi Arabia who spent the last few months of her young life slowly dying from horrific wounds inflicted by her father.
Outrage is mounting in Saudi Arabia about the case of a 5-year-old girl who died after allegedly being beaten and tortured by her father, who activists say is an Islamist preacher.
Lama Al-Ghamdi was admitted to King Saud Hospital in Riyadh last March after suffering extensive injuries, including broken ribs, a crushed skull, bruising and burns. Family, activists and officials say she died of her wounds in late October…
Activists say Al-Ghamdi is an Islamist evangelist popular in Saudi Arabia for his televised appearances and for speaking on air about the rewards of repenting to God. But they also say he only fancies himself as a cleric and is not recognized by the clerical establishment.
Some media reports say that Al-Ghamdi was sentenced to pay blood money for Lama’s death, and others say that he has been released from jail. But Mohammed Almadi, with the Human Rights Commission, told CNN that the father has been in prison for about eight months and has been accused of the torture that led to the girl’s death…
Prominent Saudi women’s rights activist Manal Al-Sharif, who has launched an online campaign and created a Twitter hashtag, #IAmLAMA, expressed a similar sentiment, explaining how this case reflects once again how dire the situation is for women in Saudi Arabia, who must contend with a male guardianship system that she says infantilizes women and strips them of any power.
“In Saudi Arabia,” Al-Sharif told CNN, “all women are considered minors and are automatically assigned to the care and judgment of their most immediate male relative.”
Al-Sharif said Saudi courts tend to “show leniency toward male abusers,” and she said she is concerned that might happen in this case as well.
Although details of the case appear to be disputed, it seems that the abuse started when Al-Ghamdi started “doubting” his 5 year old daughter’s virginity.
Activists from women’s rights groups said that the father had doubted Lama’s virginity and had her checked up by a medic.A social worker from the hospital where Lama was admitted said the girl’s back was broken and that she had been raped “everywhere”.
According to the victim’s mother, hospital staff told her that her “child’s rectum had been torn open and the abuser had attempted to burn it closed.”
What hate, and what fear. It’s hard to face this reality, but it must be done.