By Fabiana del Valle
HAVANA TIMES – She’s ten years old and she’s no longer the little girl that came to my daughter’s birthday party one year, holding her mother’s hand. She has always been a beautiful girl, with her straight hair, black like coal and great big eyes to explore the infinite.
She’s ten years old and her body already has subtle curves, her small breasts announce the woman she’ll one day become.
But she’s just a girl, she still plays with dolls and makes up stories with her friends. A girl and the clean smile, the innocence of her brief years on this Earth have been taken from her. Every time I look at my daughter, I shiver, I want to protect her, save her the horror of suffering the kind of permanent damage that is never wiped from your memory even though the years pass by.
Her parents had a friend, who they took into their home when he had problems with his wife. The attentive man brought gifts for the children, contributed to the household expenses, ate at the dinner table with the family, slept under the same roof.
But every night, once her parents and brothers and sisters slept, the little girl had to satisfy his dirtiest needs. The man would kiss her small breasts, touch her skin, masturbate and cum on her stomach. She wanted to scream, tell everything so that she could escape that hell. But she couldn’t.
This man told her that if she told anyone, he would kill her parents in their sleep. The torture played out night after night, and no helping hand came to rescue her. Her 8-year-old brother found out what was going on a while ago, but the man threatened him too. That’s how the little boy became a frightened accomplice of that disgrace.
One day, her best friend went round the house to visit her. While playing with dolls, the girl told her everything, but not before first getting her friend to promise she’d keep it a secret. But when the girl found out what it was, she was afraid and horrified, she kept saying she would say something. The argument got louder, and her father overheard.
Some words reached his ears and he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He interrogated them, but he only got tears as a response. His daughter trembled in silence. The frightened friend told him the little she knew.
He went blind with rage, he wanted to kill this guy with his own hands, the man who had the nerve to touch his baby. He grabbed his machete, prepared the horse-drawn wagon and left ready for anything. He waited for hours, but the man had already been warned and was in hiding.
Then, her father convinced her to go to the police station to file a complaint. But they didn’t get the response they were expecting there, they were told that the police didn’t have a car to go out and look for him. That’s when the father went on his own crusade. Hunting down this beast was his only mission and doing what he could, within the limits of the Law.
When he finally found the man, he kept his rage in check. Holding the machete in his hand, he made the man get onto the horse-drawn wagon “If you get off there, I swear I’ll cut you to pieces.” He took him down to the police station and handed him in. But the man was already back out on the street, the next day. Apparently they didn’t have space at the station to keep him in police custody. This is the information the family received when they went to complain.
We live in a small town, the kind where everybody knows everyone, where stories travel from mouth to mouth. These stories are like whispers, taking on frightful dimensions. Some people murmur that the man is hiding on a friend’s piece of land. But the girl’s parents say that the man is being held in pre-trial detention, awaiting the trial.
The most awful thing though are the comments, there are always plenty of them in these cases, where people say: She’s the one to blame for everything because she provoked him, he reacted like any man would!
I should maybe bite my tongue and not insult these people, who are just as wretched as the man who robbed this little girl of her innocence. But I can’t, I give free reign to my rage and demand justice for this little girl who is suffering today.
She’s only ten years old and in her eyes you can see pain, the shame of knowing that people look at her differently, that we are all accomplices of her saddest secret.