The world tuned in to the shocking news of the 8 year old who was raped then spurned by her own family, according to Phoenix police. Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts said that the president of Liberia and Oprah Winfrey took an interest in the story of the young girl from Liberia — sexually assaulted by other refugee children, shunned by her own father who later questioned whether she had even been attacked.
Various experts were quick to explain it away as a product of culture. “What you’re seeing here is the very long legacy and reach of the violence that took over Liberia for 70 years,” a professor of women’s and African studies at Emory University said. Actually, “it’s the elephant in the room that we are walking around and completely ignoring,” said Stephanie Orr of the Phoenix-based Center Against Sexual Abuse and Violence, told me. Orr cited the recent case of a 19-year-old girl who wanted to commit suicide. She had been sexually abused all her life by a relative and her parents have said, 'If you tell anybody we’re going to kill you.’ They don’t want uncle so-and-so to get in trouble. She just kept saying, 'I feel so ugly and so dirty.'” When the center did prevention programs in local chools, reaching 12,500 children, 553 of them asked to speak to the presenter, turning up 45 cases of serious abuse. Eighteen of those children had never before told anyone what had happened to them.