One fateful day, Zeina was playing in front of the door of her apartment. The porter was going to the roof of the building and by chance, the lift stopped at the floor where Zeina was playing. He found her playing alone with no one watching her, so he took the girl with him to the roof. On the roof was another guy, a friend of the porter, waiting for him. There was something on their minds that Zeina didn’t and couldn’t possibly know.
Their intention was to violate the innocence of that beautiful and chubby child. They wanted to rape her, but they couldn’t as she started to scream. They then quickly realized that her mother had found out that she was missing and all the buildings’ inhabitants had started looking for her in the street. To hide what they had done, the two guys decided to get rid of Zeina, so they threw her from the seventh floor to the back of the building.
The cold-hearted criminals then came downstairs pretending not to know anything about her and went to look for Zeina with the family. The family eventually found the little girl bleeding in the back area of the building and took her to the hospital but she died. The police investigated, found Zeina’s killers and arrested them. They were accused of killing her.
The family—as did everyone following Zeina’s story—expected the criminals to be condemned to death but instead they were condemned to only 15 years in jail. It was shocking for all of us but the problem is that the two accused guys were a few months under age 18 and there is a law that prevents condemning any young man below 18 to death no matter what his crime is.
The criminals were laughing, smiling and showing the victory sign inside their cell, while Zeina’s poor mother was screaming and crying very hard. The judge apologized to Zeina’s family as he could do nothing about it, it’s the law. Even the father of one of the killers said “My son deserves to be condemned to death 5 times for his crime”.
The story of Zeina summarizes the story of hundreds, thousands or maybe millions of children who are sexually abused every day all over the world.
And sadly, Zeina’s story is not the only one. A few months later another little girl named Hoda was raped mercilessly, choked to death and beaten with a stone to her head. Hoda was just 4.5 years-old playing in front of her house in her village in Meniah, a city in Upper Egypt. Hoda was raped and killed by her neighbor. Her dead body was found totally naked and bleeding in a house under construction.
A few days before Hoda was raped and killed, Eman a 13 years old girl was killed as well. The criminal choked her to death after failing to rape her and to be sure she died he stabbed her with a knife several times and then threw her body in the canal. Her family found her the following day, floating on the surface of the water. The guy accused of her murder is her father’s cousin, a member of the family. Hoda and Eman’s murderers may be condemned to death as they are over 18 years old.
Every few weeks we wake up with another story of a new Zeina in the newspapers, a young child or a teenage girl who is raped and killed mercilessly by a teenager or an adult. Not only has the child been put through horrors no one should know, but the whole family continues to suffer the pain of loss and the guilt of not being able to protect their child.
Zeina’s mother on TV, apologized to her young daughter for not being there to protect her and save her when she was screaming and calling for help. I couldn’t control my tears when I watched that. Sometimes there is also shame on the family’s part that their daughter has been raped. This is especially true in rural areas. Eman’s family was relieved when they realized that the criminal failed to rape her. It was obvious in their words when they announced that on the TV with great pride and honor.
Sexual abuse against children is something that any family could fall victim to because we seem unable to protect children from it`. There seems to be no end in sight for the heartbreak that families have to cope with when their innocent child is violated or hurt.
ًFor me, what is shocking about these crimes is that when the criminal is under 18 years old he is considered a child and the Egyptian child law (according to The Convention on the Rights of the Child, CRC) can’t condemn any of them to more than 15 years in jail no matter what their crime is.
This law protects the criminal child but what about the victim child? Aren’t we aggrieving them? Don’t they and their families deserve more justice and more sympathy? How can a law protect the rights of the criminal and ignore the rights of the victim?
Have there been any similar crimes in your country? What were your feelings about how the victim’s family viewed the situation?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Nihad from Alexandria, Egypt. Nihad blogs at Aurora Beams Life Coaching.
Photo credit: Bruce Tuten