Once upon a time, a long time ago, I was a six-year old girl living in Los Angeles. Coming from an extremely dysfunctional family, I pretty much ran around on the streets at all hours (often taking my 22-month-old sister with me) and went to school when I felt like it (although, surprisingly, I didn't cut all that much). I stole trinkets from a local store and snatched dimes from my mother's makeup case and didn't think twice about it.
For a six-year-old, I was fairly street savvy, my moral compass obviously skewed.
Once a 12-year-old boy threatened to "do" things to me, and I simply went home and plucked a butcher knife from the kitchen drawer and hunted him down. When I found him, I pointed the knife at him, and said, "If you don't leave me alone, I'm going to stick this knife in your gut and twist it." I never had a problem with him again.
I was fearless, yet wary of strangers. Once, a man tried luring me into following him; he rolled two sugar cubes to me, but only after he had saturated them with something from an eye-dropper. I swear he wore a fedora and raincoat--what a cliche.
I realized something was wrong; I took off like a rabbit and didn't look back. I often wonder if I would be here today if I had followed that stranger.
Fortunately, my grandparents rescued me from my mother and worked very hard at instilling good Catholic values into me. The Catholic part sort of fell by the wayside, but I no longer steal from little shops and relatives, and I haven't threatened to gut anyone lately. Back in Sioux City, Iowa, I reverted back to the child I should have been all along.
This story showed up in my email box, under Reuters' Oddly Enough reports; I'm not all that sure that this situation qualifies as an "oddity." It seems all too common these days, with cults marrying off their minor daughters to old men and young children of both sexes being sexually molested. I can only imagine this eight-year-old girl has endured in a "marriage" to a man who not only sexually assaulted her but also beat her up. At six, I had no idea about sex, but my street radar had warned me that all was not right. But I had a choice: I could escape. The eight year old had to petition the Yemeni court for her freedom, and her parents had to "pay" the poor "husband" $250.00 compensation. What an insult; that prick should have been thrown into jail, not paid off.
I have never understood the appeal of an 8-year-old girl or boy in terms of sexual pleasure. In fact, I find the very idea repulsive; I'm sure most rational people feel the same way.
While this particular story may seem especially egregious, young girls and boys have been exploited from the beginning of the human race.
On one website I frequent, there is a prominently-placed public service ad: "Stop Human Trafficking"--an admirable goal for sure--but the field itself (domaining) is filled with boy wonders who think nothing of hiring Playboy bunnies and scantily dressed young women for conference entertainment. I believe that "Stopping Human Trafficking" begins at home, not in some foreign country, that the exploitation of young women, barely out of puberty, is part of the problem.
However, we live in a culture where the young are placed on some kind of strange pedestal, particularly young girls being sexualized at a young age: make up, revealing clothes, dating at 10 and even younger. These kids have no idea that they may be setting themselves up for a pedophile's trap, so it's up to parents to keep an eye on their kids and out of harm's way.
In today's climate, we are told to "be accepting" of other cultures and their ethnic traditions, but one that exploits minor children in a sexual way doesn't deserve any respect--that includes marrying off 12-14 year olds to creepy old men who already have multiple wives.
Anyway, the Reuters' story gave me a chill.