The Little Girl and the Beast
By: Jahin Rahman
I have seen monstrous individuals roam around our society without facing any consequences for their actions. Our society, in many cases, puts much more emphasis on the opinions of others, cultural norms, family reputation, and public image above the well being of our loved ones. This choice makes my blood boil with rage. Before choosing to write about this prompt, I had to contemplate very deeply if I was ready to present this very personal story to others, and at the end I decided that it is a story worth sharing.
It all started when she was a seven year old girl, full of innocence. Her family had just immigrated to America from India, and moved into a small neighborhood in Eastern Queens. Everyday after school, the girl played outside with her neighbor’s little boy. The little boy’s elderly grandfather often joined to play hide and seek with them. One day while playing, the girl hid in the garage. The boy’s grandpa came to find her. Once no one was around, he went inside the garage. The old man grabbed the little girl and shoved his hand down her underwear by force. Confused as to what had just happened, she bit her lip and somehow controlled tears from spilling out. She went home that day, scared and hurt. Afraid of what her parents might say or what the old man might do, she told no one and went to bed.
Horrible acts of sexual abuse persisted for the upcoming eight years. The old man would come to her house when nobody was around and touch her in intimate areas. He would yell out curses with derogatory terms and sexual references. Once when she was ten, the man made her forcefully touch him in his private areas. Scared of speaking against a prominent elderly man in a predominantly Indian neighborhood where everybody judged one another, the girl kept all her pain and worries in her chest for eight years.
I first met this girl, let’s call her Anushka, when I moved into the house next door to her. I had just immigrated from Bangladesh and felt comfortable speaking with her. We went to the same school, and she helped me make new friends. Our friendship grew tremendously over the last few years. We connected so well and shared our secrets and stories. One day, she told me about her horrendous experiences with sexual abuse. Upon hearing her story, I was shocked and angry. I could feel my ears heat up due to anger and I felt utter disgust for the inhumane monster. I could imagine how emotionally shattered Anushka must have been to experience such heart wrenching acts for eight persistent years. I still remember when Anushka hugged me during the very personal conversation and said, “It just made me feel so different from all of my friends. I feel guilty. Everyday I wish that my childhood was just like that of my friends. He ruined my childhood.”
I knew Anushka deserved someone to talk to. She deserved justice but she was so scared to talk to someone. I knew that I had to help her in any way possible. I went home that day and told my mom everything-well, not everything, I skipped some of the sickening details. This was probably the first time I had seen my mom so angry. She looked like she had lost her trust from humanity. My mom hugged me and said, “I am so thankful that you trusted me enough to tell me this. God forbid, if something like that ever happens to you, you tell me. I will help you, and I will help Anushka.”
My mom had called Anushka’s mom the same day and told her to make sure to keep her daughter away from the man. Throwing him in jail was never an option, as that would somehow show the neighborhood that Anushka had allured an elderly man sexually (unbelievable). Her family’s reputation would apparently vanish in the soil if that were to happen. Anushka’s mom did not take the matter to heart. She said on the phone, “He is just an old man. What are these things you are telling me? He is just trying to play around with the neighborhood children. He sees them like his grandchildren.” If this was the definition of a grandfather then I hoped nobody in the world had such a grandfather.
There had been no resolution. Even until last year, the old man wandered around the neighborhood freely. He was respected by the Bengali and Indian community and invited to every single birthday, wedding, and cultural function. He often went to Anushka’s house where her mom served him her special tea and biscuits. “I like to see the good side of people,” she used to say. My mom and I had been trying to find other methods to help Anushka. I had anonymously talked to my school principal, who said that in order to take legal action against a sex offender, the victim would have give a personal recount of what had happened. Anushka would not agree to go on record. My mom and I had been persistently trying to take legal actions against this monster but I don’t think Anushka’s family wanted so, as the story becoming public would diminish their reputation in the Indian community. The inhumane creature died in the beginning of this year.
What would have Made Things Better
People in our society need to stop blaming the victim. I would like to say this loud and clear: Sexual abuse is never the victim’s fault. Growing up in South Asia, I have heard many comments like, “Good she got raped. She deserved it. Oh my god, she wore such short dresses! She even had multiple boyfriends!” If people’s mindsets were rectified, more victims of sexual violence would be brave to speak up. If societal norms lead us to plainly blame the victims and sit quietly then we should not follow such norms. It is high time that we start teaching predators to lower their gaze and be humans rather than tell young girls to cover their whole bodies. “Men will be men,” they say. They are right-men should be men, not animals. Any sex offender-whether they are old or young, male or female, rich or poor-should be persecuted immediately. Little girls and boys like Anushka deserve a better world-one where they are allowed to be children and enjoy their childhood, rather than have their innocence be murdered by heartless beasts.
a chance to win $$ and make your