NEW YORK — “You are forcing me,” cried a 17-year-old South African girl with a mental disability who was filmed while being raped, as several men and teenagers taunted her anguish and laughed at her pleas. The video spread across the internet like wildfire, inciting outrage and, sadly, ridicule.
After the rape, the group tossed her the equivalent of 25 cents in exchange for her silence. They abandoned her, taking her dignity with them in the form of a cell phone video. The video of her rape then swiftly passed through the hands of schoolchildren in Johannesburg’s Soweto township.
Four weeks later, after the video had become an internet sensation, the police found her with a 37-year-old man. Police suspected that he had kidnapped her after the rape and held her captive as his personal sex slave.
Apparently this was not the first time the girl’s plight was ignored. She had been raped twice before, in 2009 and 2010. The first case went to court, but was dismissed after the girl was deemed too “confused” to explain her side of the story to the judge. Following this incident, her mother pleaded with social welfare services to place her daughter in a home where she would be safe. They ignored the request, and her daughter was raped again.
“They failed me,” the mother told CNN. After all the publicity over the video, the government finally found a placement for the girl in a safe home.