Rape Surges Amid Anarchy in Liberia
By ALEXANDRA ZAVIS
Associated Press Writer
August 9, 2003, 12:45 PM EDT
Liberia -- Clutching her daughter's photograph to her breast, Rebecca throws
back her head and wails. Gunmen burst into her home and raped the child on her
10th birthday, leaving her lying in a pool of blood and vomit -- dead.
Every time fighting surges in Liberia, women are raped, aid workers say. But this time, the scale is incalculable. Wild-eyed men are going door to door, ransacking homes, beating and killing people, and raping any women -- or girls -- they find.
Both sides in the battle are implicated -- the fighters of warlord President Charles Taylor, as well as the rebels trying to overthrow him. Women used to be most at risk fleeing through the bush, aid workers say. Now they are not safe in their homes either.
"Those people are not human beings," sobs Rebecca, now sheltering in a friend's yard. She, like other victims, doesn't want her surname published for fear of reprisals.
July 20 began with Rebecca, 42, waking the sleeping child with a chorus of "Happy Birthday." She gathered her son and a friend's 14-year-old girl with them for Sunday prayers.
Then government fighters pounded at the gate.
A young man smashed Rebecca's head with a hammer and tore off her clothes, while her 10-year-old clung to her, crying "Mommy! Mommy!" When the man realized Rebecca was menstruating, he kicked her.
Another fighter, who called himself Black Dog, ripped the child from her mother and threw her to the floor.
"When he got through with her, I saw blood, I saw vomit, I saw toilet," Rebecca says, moaning rhythmically. "He raped her to death."
As her daughter lay on the floor, another man grabbed the 14-year-old and raped her, too.
"He was holding me," whispers the child, sitting bolt upright, knees pressed together and hands twisting in her lap. "I was fighting, kicking him."
Rape has always gone hand in hand with war in Liberia, where Taylor's first grab for power in 1989 ushered in nearly 14 years of strife.
"Every time there is an incursion going on, it is the same thing," says Miatta Roberts, a counselor with the Liberian-run Concerned Christian Community -- the only group remaining here that works with rape survivors. "When there is war going on, no woman is safe."
Figures are impossible to track, because most victims are either cut off by fighting or feel too humiliated to seek help. But the few counselors left after international aid groups pulled out foreign staff say they've never seen so many cases.
"It's more rampant than ever before," said Mariama Brown, the group's founding director.
The attacks are usually linked to looting sprees by drunk, drugged and disaffected fighters. Many feel abandoned since Taylor bowed to mounting international pressure and pledged to hand over power, so they have launched what they call "Operation Pay Yourself."
With no functioning court system at the moment, they act with impunity.
Some 1,500 women participate in the Christian group's trauma programs at a teeming refugee camp in an athletics stadium. Of these, 626 have been raped.
In better times, the group gave the women food, clothing, medical treatment and skills training. Now they can do little more than provide a safe haven and keep them busy. The women play games together in a bamboo and tarpaulin enclosure and sing traditional songs to remind them of home.
Joining a circle of clapping, singing women, 20-year-old Alice breaks into a rare smile.
Three years ago, she was gang-raped in front of her whole family as they fled through the bush ahead of a rebel advance. Last month, pro-Taylor militia fighters caught up with her on the outskirts of Monrovia, pulling her from a group of refugees huddled in an abandoned home.
The repeated rapes have shattered her dreams of marriage and children.
"I feel shame before men," she says. "No one approaches me now."
Violence against women is as widespread in rebel-held areas, aid workers say.
While fleeing the insurgents' latest advance, Kula's family stumbled into a rebel ambush. Her husband, mother, aunt and brother were killed on the spot.
When she finally reached a refugee camp outside Monrovia, she thought she was safe. But soon the rebels were back, moving from hut to hut in search of women.
"They shared us among themselves," says Kula, who is 47 but looks much older. "Everyone was crying."
Four days later it happened again. Rebels with stockings over their faces burst into the house where she was sheltering and grabbed all the women.
Two fighters raped Kula this time, one of them so young he could barely hold up his machine gun -- no older than 10, she guesses.
"I think the women who can say they haven't been raped are very few," she says sorrowfully. "It pains my heart."
As for Rebecca, the fighters stripped her house and even took the family album. Rebecca has only one picture left of her daughter, taken when she was 11 months old -- a solemn child with bright bows in her hair, standing unsteadily with the help of a piece of furniture.
Falling to her knees, Rebecca sobs: "Just kill me. I want to die."
Copyright © 2003, The Associated Press
Some things about the black apes never change:
What was he thinking? Did he think that this fine (white) 19 year old girl, from a fine family, whose life has been traumatized forever by this insidious act, was some "black hoe" from LA or sub-saharan africa where such would greeted with a "Reginald-Denny-like thank you for the violence, I know you're just a black ape that was born that way"?
Click here http://peia.250free.com/americananimals.htm. Or did he think that his brutal act was less in magnitude than the brutal rape and murder of that little girl, who struggled to her last breath at the hands of alejandro avillar?Click here http://albertlpeia.owns1.com I think not. Lest you desire the same for yourself, family, and friends, the time is now to support the State of Colorado, the victim and her family, and thwart the "clintonian-california- american" effect and send a message indicative of a will to survive by sending "media fraud" (I personally don't watch zulu apes jumping around on a hard-wood floor)
and criminal, kobe bean bryant to jail.
Parenthetically, I would not have been surprised if the uncivilized ape bryant had sought hillbilly clinton (whoops, hillbilly was suspended for perjury, but should have been convicted for many crimes including sexual assault, rape, etc. - an unconflicted pathological liar and psycopath) who also should be in jail. Or might he call upon "johnny-the-ape-play-the-race-card-cochran" as in the city of apes(LA) where the guilty murderer, oj the ape, with the help of disbarred liar francis lee bailey, among others, walked free. Not surprising in the mismanaged state of california which "sports" the worst leadership in the nation; viz., davis, feinstein, and boxer, clintonian hypocrites all, and which pander to the clintonian "bryant/simpson/avillar" voting blocks to perpetuate their incompetent reigns, but to their financial benefit and california's financial ruin.
I feel confident that the beautiful and desirable State of Colorado will not countenance uncivilized beastiality, will convict and jail the los(t) angeles product bryant, and show the world that the civilized will not sucumb to the uncivilized.
Cheers Amid New Details
Kobe Bryant Makes First Court Appearance; Details About Alleged Tearing
Kobe Bryant made his first court appearance in his sexual assault case today, as ABCNEWS was told that examiners found evidence the NBA superstar's accuser had "vaginal tearing."
Bryant, 24, is accused of sexual assault for allegedly raping a 19-year-old woman who worked at an exclusive resort where he stayed while he was in Colorado for knee surgery in late June. The Los Angeles Lakers guard, who is married and has an infant daughter, has admitted committing adultery with the woman but insists the sex was consensual.
Today, Bryant, dressed in a beige suit, was greeted by a few cheers as he entered the front of the Eagle County, Colo., Courthouse for the procedural hearing Judge Frederick Gannett ordered him to attend. Bryant's wife, Vanessa, was not with him.
Pamela Mackey, Bryant's attorney, waived the formal advisement of the sexual assault charge he faces. Bryant sat quietly with his hands folded during the hearing, which lasted approximately seven minutes. He was not required to and did not enter a plea.
Gannett scheduled a preliminary hearing for Oct. 9. Asked whether he objected to the scheduling of the hearing, Bryant said, "No, sir."
The judge also said he would appoint a special investigator to look into leaks to the media about the case.
Bryant was cheered again as he and his lawyer left the courthouse and entered his waiting sport utility vehicle.
Bryant's appearance today came as ABCNEWS was told examiners found evidence that the alleged victim had vaginal tearing. Prosecutors could argue that this is not consistent with consensual sex, legal analysts say. But the defense could rebut this in several ways, including that vaginal tearing could be sustained during consensual sex, or was not incurred during sex with Bryant.
Several sources familiar with the case also told ABCNEWS the accuser has alleged that she tried to leave Bryant's hotel room and he blocked the door. The sources said that the sheriff's original arrest warrant included a misdemeanor claim of false imprisonment.
The prosecutor did not ultimately include a false imprisonment claim in the charging document. One reason may be that prosecutors prefer not to give the jury the option of finding guilt on a lesser offense as a way of compromising.
That does not mean that prosecutors cannot include the allegation at trial.
Despite the cheers outside the courthouse, Bryant's public relations struggle will continue after the hearing, as he faces the question of how to appear innocent without appearing callous or unconcerned, or worse guilty.
"It's kind of a Catch-22," defense attorney Chris Pixley told ABCNEWS' Good Morning America. "After today's hearing, if Kobe Bryant is holed up by his defense team, then the suggestion is made by the media that he's hiding behind his attorneys or that worse, he may be showing signs of guilt or that he's guilt-ridden.
"The flip side is when he's out in the media or out in public as he has been recently, there are a lot of attacks made against him for maybe being cavalier about the charges against him," Pixley said. "It's a lose-lose. At the end of the day, you can't tell your client they can't go about their life. This is someone who is a celebrity. He's going to be followed whenever he's out."
He Said, She Said
Bryant met his alleged victim on June 30, when he stayed at Lodge & Spa at Cordillera in Edwards, Colo. He flew back to Colorado to turn himself in to authorities for his arrest on July 4 and was freed after posting $25,000 bond.
The woman was allegedly attacked after she gave Bryant a tour of the facility's hotel and spa, sources have told ABCNEWS. The tour ended at Bryant's room, sources say, where he allegedly invited her to come inside and she accepted. According to the sources, there was some consensual contact between Bryant and his accuser, but the woman says she did not consent to intercourse.
Under Colorado law, a rape can still occur if the victim consents to some sexual activity, but later withdraws her consent or refuses to give consent to other sexual activity, including intercourse. Bryant faces probation to life in prison if convicted on the single felony count.
Some courtroom observers have said they do not expect a plea bargain in the case. If Bryant pleaded guilty to a lesser count, he would have to register as a convicted sex offender.
"From the prosecution point of view, you don't really plead those cases down or plead them anyway," Court TV reporter Vinnie Politan told ABCNEWS' Good Morning America on Tuesday. "From the defendant's point of view, any sort of admission to doing anything wrong here is just suicide for him."
Weary of But Cashing In on the Media Glare
Authorities at the Eagle County Courthouse had been preparing for days for the media onslaught accompanying Bryant's first court appearance.
Prosecutors received threats after Bryant was charged, prompting court officials to post sheriff's deputies around the courthouse today. Seats in the small courtroom had to be assigned to certain members of the press and a tent was set up outside the courthouse to accommodate the overflow of reporters.
Residents of Eagle reportedly have grown weary of the media focus on their small town. But that hasn't stopped them from trying to cash in the spotlight.
Hundreds of reporters and dozens of satellite
trucks were in town for today's hearing. Hotels and restaurants were fully
booked. Several signs advertising temporary office space were posted, and
children were seen selling cold drinks and snacks around town. A sign posted
outside a local pharmacy said, "Nothing to Say, Lots to Sell."
facing sex assault counts in
weeks after Kobe Bryant's arrest for felony sexual assault, prosecutors today
announced that the NBA star has been formally charged in connection with an
alleged attack on a 19-year-old employee of a ritzy
Some things about the black apes never change:
By ALEXANDRA ZAVIS
MONROVIA, Liberia -- Clutching her daughter's photograph
to her breast, Rebecca throws back her head and wails. Gunmen burst into her
home and raped the child on her 10th birthday, leaving her lying in a pool of
blood and vomit -- dead.
Copyright © 2003, The Associated Press