Monday, November 14, 2011

Raped by kids

A 7-year-old girl, the victim of a brutal sex attack allegedly by boys not much older than her, spoke to Elizabeth Zachariah, Muzliza Mustafa and Looi Sue-Chern about her ordeal. This is the first report in a three part series.

She is just 7-year-old but is living a nightmare which would probably traumatise her for life.

Standing slightly above a metre tall and sporting shoulder-length hair, Ani (not her real name) has become the talk of her village in Kulim, Kedah, ever since her ordeal became public recently.

She is the girl who was allegedly gang-raped and sodomised by four boys between the ages of 10 and 13. They were no strangers to her. They were family friends and three of them were her schoolmates.

The neighbourhood is abuzz because of the sheer brutality of the crime and for the fact it was carried out by boys "inspired" by porn movies.

The police have classified the case as rape and have completed their investigation. The boys have been released on bail and are back at school.

But it is a different story with Ani. She is now a recluse, on the brink of depression. She has refused to attend school and even sat her final examinations while in hospital.

Her mother is blaming herself for what has happened, admitting she did not pay much attention to Ani as she was preoccupied with her youngest daughter, a 1-year-old baby, who is suffering from a heart ailment.

Ani's father is crying "bloody murder" and has vowed to take legal action against the boys' parents if the law cannot act against the boys due to their age. The boys' parents are said to be odd-job and plantation workers.

The New Straits Times visited Ani at her home recently. Her parents were present during the interview. They wanted Ani's plight highlighted. In a little voice, sometimes cracking with emotion, the girl related what had happened.

She claimed she was raped and sodomised by the same bunch on three occasions between August and Oct 8 at a small observation hut deep inside an oil palm estate some 2km from her home.

Ani said she normally hung out with her 11-year-old friend in the evenings at a playground about a kilometre away from her home.

On Oct 8, she was, as usual, at the playground when the four boys came and asked her to follow them to the hut.

Her friend decided to go home and join them later but never showed up.

"I just followed them as they were my friends," Ani said.

When they arrived at the dark and deserted place, one of the boys allegedly showed her a video clip on his handphone, which turned out to be pornography.

"He told me that it was a game that we were going to play," she said as tears welled up in her eyes.

"I didn't know what game they were talking about. I didn't know they were going to follow what was in that clip."

She did not protest when the boys pushed her down, took off her clothes and took turns raping her.

When asked if it was painful, Ani said that only one of the boys was rough with her.

"That was painful for me and I started to cry. They warned me not to tell anyone what they did to me," she said, adding that after the ordeal, she got dressed, got on her bicycle and followed the boys back to their village.

She returned home after Maghrib prayers and was punished by her father for being late.

"I could not tell them what happened for fear of getting more punishment," Ani said, as she clung to her mother.

"I was afraid. The boys warned me not to breathe a word to anyone."

Ani's story, however, broke when a teacher caught whiff of a rumour in school about the alleged sex attack as the boys had apparently bragged about their conquest to their friends.

The school principal called Ani's father, who immediately lodged a police report. The four young suspects were arrested and remanded.

Meanwhile, Ani spent sleepless nights at the hospital, going through a series of medical examinations. She sat her year-end examination in the hospital and would not let her mother leave her side.

While in the hospital, Ani attended two counselling sessions with a psychiatrist and is expected to have more sessions soon.

She said she does not want to go back to school if the suspects were still there but is open to the idea of switching schools.

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