Those who believe that the Catholic Church has a monopoly on pedophilia and the sexual abuse of children by clerics should know about a story -- "Struggling to Keep Afghan Girl Safe After a Mullah Is Accused of Rape" -- by Rob Nordland, in yesterday's New York Times.
The nub of the story is the rape, last May, of a pre-pubescent girl, aged 10, by a mullah at the local mosque in Kunduz, a town in Afghanistan, where the victim had been attending Qu'ran recitation classes. The Muslim spiritual leader, Mohammad Amin, was arrested and confessed to having sex with the girl, but said he thought she was older, besides which he intended to marry her.
But that's not the main point of the story. The real crime here would have been perpetrated by the girl's family, had they succeeded in killing her, for... wait for it... bringing shame and dishonour on her family.
Most of the anger in Kunduz has been focused not on the mullah but on women’s activists and the shelter where the girl took refuge, which is one of seven operated across Afghanistan by Women for Afghan Women, an Afghan-run charity supported mainly by aid from the American government and private donors.
This past Tuesday, local cops removed the girl from the shelter, and returned her to her family, despite complaints from the women’s activists that she was likely to be killed. The head of the women's affairs office in Kunduz, Nederah Geyah, who campaigned actively to have the youngster protected from her family, resigned and moved to another part of Afghanistan.
Dr. Hassina Sarwari, the head of the shelter, was at one point driven into hiding by death threats from the girl’s family and other mullahs -- some of them Taliban, others on the government side -– and from pro-government militiamen. One of their claims was that the girl was actually 17, and thus of marriageable age, not 10.
Accompanying the Times article is a photo of Dr. Sarwari showing on her laptop one of the pictures of the victim she took in the hospital. The photos clearly show a pre-pubescent child, and the doctor said the girl weighed only 40 pounds. Few Afghans have birth records, and many do not know their precise ages. But the girl’s mother said she was 10, and a forensic examination in the hospital agreed, saying she had not yet started menstruating or developing secondary sexual characteristics.
The girl’s own testimony, and medical evidence, supported a rape so violent that it caused a fistula, or a break in the wall between the vagina and rectum, according to the police and the official bill of indictment. She bled so profusely after the attack that she was at one point in danger of losing her life because of a delay in getting medical care.
Ms Geyah told the reporter, "I went to the hospital when they brought her there. I was sitting next to her bed when I overheard her mother and aunt saying that her father was under tremendous pressure by the villagers to kill the girl because she had brought shame to them."
When Dr. Sarwari, a pediatrician, arrived to pick up the girl, a crowd of village elders from Alti Gumbad, the girl’s home village on the outskirts of the Kunduz, were gathered outside the hospital. Among them were the girl’s brothers, father and uncle. Inside the hospital, Dr. Sarwari encountered the girl’s aunt, who told her she had been ordered by her husband to sneak the girl out of the hospital and deliver her to the male relatives outside. They wanted to take the girl, kill her, and dump her in the river, the aunt said.
Dr. Sarwari found the girl’s mother holding her child’s hand, and both were weeping. The doctor quoted the mother as saying, "My daughter, may dust and soil protect you now. We will make you a bed of dust and soil. We will send you to the cemetery where you will be safe."
Muslim mothers often believe there is no choice but to kill rape victims, who are seen as unmarriageable and therefore a lifelong burden to their families, as well as a constant reminder of dishonour.
Dr. Sarwari has accused prosecutors and religious officials of siding with the accused rapist and ignoring the child’s plight. "There are a lot of powerful people behind the mullah," she told the Times. The girl’s family knows they cannot do anything to Amin, she said, but "the girl is easy. They can get to her. She’s their daughter." She said she feared the girl would either be killed, or forced to recant her accusations against the pederastic mullah.
This sad case makes a mockery of claims by the US and other governments that that Western aid and encouragement can make positive changes in the lives of Afghan women. In remote parts of Afghanistan, traditional customs are still stronger than modern law. Taliban insurgents and pro-government elements often make common cause in their hatred of progress in women’s rights.
Walt has said it before in commenting on a similar story -- see "Parents of raped 14-year-old mutilate Muslim cleric, say he should be 'punished even more severely'" -- and he'll say it again: They're savages there, one and all. Leave the benighted heathens to cutting off each other's body parts, killing their wives and daughters and whatever else seems "right" according to their "religion of peace"! And may Allah give them all the rewards they so richly deserve!