The silenced screams
By Fr. Shay Cullen
Rachelle, when she was just 13 years old, suffered in silence and isolation. Like most children in the world, she turned into herself and at that young age, having being certified mentally challenged with a mental age of a 9 year-old, she felt totally helpless to change or prevent what adults more powerful and knowledgeable did to her. The cruel injustice done to children and every victim of abuse is endured individually, alone, suffered one by one in secret and silence, separated, with hardly anyone to help her. The pain is buried inside; it seldom finds a collective voice, marches on the streets, a champion, a defender and a moral warrior ready to take on and battle for her against the powerfully corrupt and the cruel, the uncaring with the cold hearts of stone but pockets lined with gold.
If only every injustice suffered by countless children came together in one great cry of anguish and anger at inflicted hurt and abuse, then every leaf on every tree would be blown away, every stalk of rice or wheat would be torn naked of their grains. The outpouring of human anguish, pain and anger would blast away the corrupt and the ignorant, the apathetic and indifferent, the conscienceless, those numb and incapable of compassion to the hurt in others. It would rise up in revolution and topple a regime, conquer an empire, down a tyrant. But the empires of human indifference reign supreme like tyrants over the lives of little children and all they have is a silent scream.
So it was for Rachelle and countless other children who are made to endure and suffer rape and sexual abuse so as the deviant adult abuser can satisfy his selfish sexual urge. To stop, prevent and end such evil acts, there is the mighty law to render justice for Rachelle. But did it?
Rachelle was led to believe by her mother and her 27 year-old abuser and his family that to become a live-in sexual partner of a man twice her age was her lot in life. According to them, it was right for her to be raped daily and if he hurt her and gagged her screams this was love and it was therefore right and good. The prosecutors in Malolos, Bulacan, sworn to uphold the child protection law, to save the dignity and rights of all from rapists and childhood murderers, agreed that it was love and therefore there was no crime, no wrongdoing and if there was criminal liability of the man then even the parents would be charged. But there was no crime, it was “love” they ruled.
Then they wrote and signed their legal decision of 9 October 2012 that said in effect, if the parents and the man say it was love, then it must be love and no reasoning or no law can say that such sexual acts are wrong or unjust. There is no case to answer, they concluded and rounded it off with a poetic idiotic senseless quotation: “Indeed, the heart has reason of its own which reason does not know”, they said.
The facts of the case points to the rape and multiple sexual abuse of a mentally challenged 13 year-old girl (call her Rachelle who is now 14 years-old with a mental age of 9 years old according to a government psychoanalyst). However, the statement of the child is clear, coherent. She described plainly what was done to her by her neighbor, a 27 year old man. The medical evidence is clearly showing multiple sexual acts. The mother of the child (impoverished and abandoned by her husband) protested at first, the family of the accused made an agreement with the mother (money was given most likely) for the child to be allowed to live-in with the accused. A local government barangay official in Calumpit, Bulacan approved. The barangay witnesses (according to the prosecutor) said the little girl and the 27 year-old were in love and the prosecutor wrote that it was like a marriage rite even though minors are not allowed to marry, but still, it was not a crime. But Preda Foundation social workers heard of it and intervened to rescue the child, take her into a safe caring and healing community and file the charges.
But the prosecutor was not impressed with the arguments that it was rape, sex slavery and child abuse. No! They said, “if the accused were to be held criminally liable then the parents would be accomplices and this should not be case” and “it is improper and baseless to state that the respondent took advantage of her minor age”. Finally, in a contradictory conclusion, the prosecutor wrote: “The absence of the elements of rape and even child abuse being apparent probable cause does not exist”.
Then the prosecutor recommended to the 2nd Assistant Prosecutor and to the Provincial Prosecutor that the complaint of the child be dismissed and so it was. But it is wrong and it protects the accused in the face of overwhelming evidence of probable cause, this is the common harem done to child victims and to the cause of justice and the nation. Preda is Rachelle’s champion and we are protesting this miscarriage of justice and we are sure more mature legal minds will agree to reverse the decision and send it to trial. There are thousands of victims every day and their silent screams go unheard and unheeded.
Act now to help children like Rachelle escape abuse and get justice. Contact Preda Center, P.O. Box 68, Olongapo City, Philippines. email@example.com
(Fr. Shay’s columns are published in The Manila Times, in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and on-line.)
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