I raised my head to see Tahir coming out of his car. After placing his face towel on his shoulder, he walked straight to where I sat, on the garden chair, and said:
‘So you’re still here?’ He asked.
‘Yes, as you can see, I am.’ I joked.
‘Whatever report you have to write is really taking long today. I mean you were here when I left for golf this morning. And knowing how much you love going back to sleep after your morning devotions, on weekends, I knew that what dragged you out of bed was very important. But to still be at it after three hours? It must be an emergency.’ He concluded.
‘Yes, in a way it is. But what’s taking long is not really the report but the illustrations. I want to make sure the artist gets the message he has to draw correctly, that’s why I’m doing the amateur sketches myself. And since I’m not particularly a talented artist, it’s taking me longer than usual to do it.’ I explained.
‘I see,’ Tahir said, dragging out one of the chairs and sitting next to me. ‘let me have a look.’ He added, lifting the top-most sheet of paper to examine it.
‘This is good, though I’m not sure what message the illustration seeks to deliver but the drawing is good and I think any professional artist can do a great job, if he understands what it is you need. All I can see are little girls running away from an adult man and I’m not sure why. What is this particular campaign about?’ He enquired.
‘It’s an anti-rape campaign. I almost couldn’t sleep last night after what I saw on the latest victims around here. That was when I decided that I’d call an emergency meeting of our parliament, so we can plan and start this media campaign immediately. I realised that we need to change strategy, otherwise the victims will only increase. Because they are getting younger than before and do not even know what has befallen them. The only way we can help them is by enlightening them on how to recognize the danger signs and what to do about them.’ I disclosed.
‘Great idea but what did you see last night that was so disturbing, who are you calling the latest victims?’ Tahir asked, putting down the paper he picked back with the others.
‘These two girls’ I replied, picking up my phone to show him the video of an interview with two girls aged three and seven years old. They were answering questions from a male adult who couldn’t be seen. They were telling him how they were repeatedly raped and sodomised by their father until their mother found out and took action.
‘How do you know that this is true?’ Tahir asked, trying to hide the shock in his voice.
‘Because I knew the story even before I saw this video. The story broke after the Islamic scholar (Alim) their mother first reported the matter to was interviewed by newsmen. He told them that a woman came to him and complained that she had discovered that her husband was defiling their two young daughters. The scholar said he immediately took her and the girls to hospital, for a proper check-up. The medical exam revealed that indeed the two girls had been defiled both through their front and back. The doctor who examined them was so enraged she quickly offered to testify in any court of law, should the mother need her.
Afterwards, the Alim encouraged the mother to go to court, which she did.
Initially the judge was quite sympathetic but after summoning the father, and nobody knew what transpired between them, he now turned back and arrested the mother and a man who was assisting her in the matter. At the time I heard the audio interview with the Alim, he was threatening to do all in his power to get both the father and the judge arrested.
And he kept his word, because a few days later I read that the father had been arrested and his wife had been released but I had no idea what happened to the judge.
Now just before I went to bed last night I checked my phone and saw this video of the girls narrating their story. I saw just how young they were, did you see the little one actually speaking baby talk? She can hardly pronounce things correctly and yet this is the same person an adult would seek pleasure from, her own father for that matter.
It tore at my heart strings. I realised I couldn’t just let it go. What’s the use of making sure the culprits are punished when the damage was done? It was at that point that the idea of doing a special rape prevention campaign came to me.
We will seek to enlighten girls, particularly the very young, on when to run away if an adult begins to touch them in a certain way, even if it’s their father. And they will be taught how to report to their mother or any older relative, whenever someone touches them that way. You know, this unscrupulous man actually threatened the girls with dire consequences if they told their Mum. That was why they tolerated all that suffering in silence, until she found out herself.
The illustrations are for posters that we will print and distribute to schools, hospitals and other community centres, where they will be posted for public viewing. And the jingles will be played regularly on radios, we can’t afford TV now but maybe later we can liaise with some government agency to get funding for the TV campaign.
The theme of the campaign is “Even if it’s Daddy” because it’s inspired by the unfortunate story of these girls whose father is the monster behind their ordeal.’ I concluded.
‘It’s a laudable idea Bint, a very good display of social responsibility. But the whole thing is shocking really. Why would an adult male go after small girls like this and worse still his own daughters? Is it a result of the drugs epidemic? I mean so many young rapists are said to be high on drugs when caught. Is it the same thing with married men who are also paedophiles? And the normal thing is to warn your children against strangers or distant relatives, how do you begin to warn them against their own father?’ Tahir asked, rhetorically.
To be continued.