Liberians Residing in Arizona Fret over "Backlash" in Gang Rape of Child
August 03, 2009, 05:32 PM
A+
|
a-
Print Friendly and PDF
In July, four Liberian boys, aged 9 to 14, allegedly gang-raped an eight-year-old Liberian girl in Phoenix after luring her to a shed with the promise of gum. The boys are Liberian refugees. Public outrage about the crime was increased even more when the girl's father reportedly blamed the child for bringing shame upon the family.

Now the Liberian immigrants are worried that Americans might think that their culture is unduly barbaric.

In fact, "backlash" is a word used to describe Americans recognizing the particular cultural pathology of an immigrant group: [Liberians in AZ worry about backlash in rape case, San Francisco Chronicle, July 31, 2009].

Leaders of Arizona's Liberian community said Sunday they're worried about stereotypes of the West African nation and potential backlash against its people in the aftermath of an 8-year-old girl's alleged rape by four boys.

The leaders spoke of their concerns to a congregation of Liberians during a Sunday church service at Africa Faith Expressions in west Phoenix. The girl's family is among its members.

Police say four boys, ages 9 to 14, lured the girl to an empty storage shed July 16 with the promise of chewing gum. Investigators say the boys then restrained the girl and took turns sexually assaulting her.

All the children are Liberian refugees.

On that "stereotype" thing, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff made a good case that Liberian culture indeed condones rape on a massive scale: After Wars, Mass Rapes Persist [May 20, 2009].
In Liberia, sexual predation during the civil war was "normal." One major survey found that 75 percent of women had been raped - mostly gang-raped, with many suffering internal injuries.

The incidence of rape has dropped since then but is still numbingly high. An International Rescue Committee survey in 2007 found that about 12 percent of girls aged 17 and under acknowledged having been sexually abused in some way in the previous 18 months.

Then there is the age of the victims. Of the 275 new sexual violence cases treated between January and April by Doctors Without Borders in Liberia, 28 percent involve children aged 4 or younger, and 33 percent involve children aged 5 through 12.

"The rape of little children is common," said Oretha Brooks, a social worker at the excellent Duport Road Clinic in Monrovia. "It happens on a daily basis." She introduced me to Wynnie, a 9-year-old girl in her waiting room who had been raped twice.

As of Census 2000, 39,030 Liberian-born persons resided in the United States.