Four days ago, the New York Times reported that on May 1, 2014, in a mosque after Quran recitation classes mullah Mohammad Amin raped a ten-year old girl. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/20/world/asia/struggling-to-keep-afghan-girl-safe-after-a-mullah-is-accused-of-rape.html?_r=0. This was an abhorrent crime, the type of which we have heard about all to often – the religious violating the innocent. However, this particular crime perpetrated by this particular rapist on this particular child took on horrific proportions, because it was committed in Afghanistan where many believe the child has dishonored her family simply by being raped. The young victim now fears for her life at the hands of her own male family members. An honor killing of this unimaginable sort is so steeped in the fabric of Afghani society and culture that even the young victim’s mother sees the cemetery as her daughter’s safe-haven.
And what of the mullah who confessed to having had sex with the 10-year old? He has none of the fears that now plague the child. In fact, other mullahs have come to his defense. They, together with militia members, the Taliban and government and religious officials have supported the rapist, with some going so far as to threaten those individuals attempting to keep the victim from harm.
But why does the mullah need a defense at all, if his actions are truly punishable by killing the victim? Why did he magnanimously offer to marry the 10-year old? Why would he claim that the child looked older than her 10 years, when she was clearly pre-pubescent, weighing 40 pounds? Why would he claim she consented when the rape was so violent that it broke the wall between her vagina and her rectum, causing the child to lose copious amounts of blood? One answer comes to mind – both the rapist and the society in which he committed the rape know, in their hearts, that rape is wrong and that the rape of a child in a sacred place by someone who should be her protector is not merely criminal, but despicable and dishonorable.
So, what can we say about a society that would blame the powerless for the crimes of the powerful or the father that would rather kill his child than the person who violently harmed her. One word comes to mind – cowardly.