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91 Responses

  1. Amy
    Amy March 6, 2009 at 11:07 am |

    This makes me sick as a former Catholic. Any idea to whom we should voice our displeasure? Not that it’s likely to matter, but this is so absurd that it should be stated so.

  2. Richard Jeffrey Newman
    Richard Jeffrey Newman March 6, 2009 at 11:17 am |

    Readers of this post might be interested in a post I wrote some time ago on my blog called Know Thine Enemy: Fetal Personhood as Metaphorical Thinking. A relevant quote, which comes quite a ways into the piece because the setup does take some time:

    Taken to its logical conclusion, in other words, the [implicitly and explicitly religious] anti-choice logic licenses rape, and it licenses rape, or at least those rapes that result in pregnancy, at least in part because it draws on the metaphorical link between the zygote growing inside a raped woman who becomes pregnant and the zygote-that-would-become-Jesus growing inside Mary in such a way that it erases the significance of the circumstances of the conception.

    One note: I did confuse the virgin birth and the immaculate conception, and I just have not had the time to go back and fix it.

  3. Richard Jeffrey Newman
    Richard Jeffrey Newman March 6, 2009 at 11:18 am |

    I accidentally deleted the part of my previous comment where I said just how horrifying this story is.

  4. Betsy
    Betsy March 6, 2009 at 11:19 am |

    Thank you for posting the update Cara. What a horrible situation!

  5. Mike Perazzetti
    Mike Perazzetti March 6, 2009 at 11:26 am |

    Brought to you by the Catholic Church once again “proud suppressors of Women’s Rights And Human Rights for more than Five Centuries.”

    Believably unbelievable. This is one of the many good reasons I am no longer a member of this absurdist religion. It took about 500 years for the Chirch the rescind the excommunication of Galileo. How long will this take?

    I Critini Catolichi

    Ugh

  6. The Opoponax
    The Opoponax March 6, 2009 at 11:54 am |

    But oh well. God says. Clearly, if this child died in the course of fulfilling “God’s wishes,” it would have been a lesser tragedy than the cold-blooded murder of those innocent little fetuses.

    Hasn’t the Catholic Church beatified women who died rather than have abortions?

  7. Personal Failure
    Personal Failure March 6, 2009 at 11:56 am |

    I posted on this, too. Apparently, condemning the 9 year old to die trying to carry the fetuses to term is not murder. Who knew?

  8. Bitter Scribe
    Bitter Scribe March 6, 2009 at 12:00 pm |

    Gee, how do we know the kid didn’t lead her stepfather on?

    Seriously, if there’s a more appalling example of the warped values of the “pro-life” movement, I have yet to see it. It’s simply unbelievable that anyone who claims to be a moral authority would advocate forcing a nine-year-old to give birth to twins.

    I’ve never been to Brazil, but from what I understand, it’s a highly sexualized culture. How does this square with the church’s ridiculously obstinate and obtuse attitude on issues like this? Or is the latter somehow a reaction to the former?

  9. ThickRedGlasses
    ThickRedGlasses March 6, 2009 at 12:04 pm |

    This is why I don’t understand how anyone who knows about cases like this, the child raping priests, and all the other fucked-up shit that happens in the Catholic church can still be Catholic. They should at least launch a Catholic uprising that forces the Church to change to fit the values of Catholics all over the world in the 21st century. Brazil certainly isn’t a sexually pure paradise. Neither is Spain or France or Italy or the US (which isn’t majority Catholic, but the blue states in the Northeast seem to have a bunch more Catholics than in other parts of the US). Get with the times, Catholic church!

  10. Mighty Ponygirl
    Mighty Ponygirl March 6, 2009 at 12:12 pm |

    Until recently, I believe catholic doctrine was that the life of the mother trumped the life of the fetus, because, after all, if the mother died in labor, who would raise the children and cook the meals for her existing family?

    I guess if the woman isn’t already a mother, she’s worthless and can die.

    Of the church has gone so fetus-crazy they’ve completely reversed their position.

  11. RoRo
    RoRo March 6, 2009 at 12:17 pm |

    Does the church excommunicate people who *actually* commit murder? I mean, aren’t there Catholics in jail for murder? It seems likely that pretty much all of the people in jail for murder in Brazil would also be Catholic (just because of the religious makeup of the country — not, of course, that Catholics are more likely to murder). Does the church excommunicate them? Or is murder of a fully sentient human being possibly forgivable by Jesus, while the “murder” of a zygote is not?

    Poor little girl — in so many ways.

  12. Phenicks
    Phenicks March 6, 2009 at 12:17 pm |

    You can practice Catholicism with the full understanding that EVERY human being has flaws, atheist and priests alike.

    Cases like this is EXACTLY why a tougher emphasis should be put on rape kits which INCLUDE but is not limited to emergency contraception to prevent this form happening in teh first place. Although this poor little baby was scarred for life via the rape, the traumatization lived on in being pregnant and having an abortion which is an extension of the rape. Why wasn’t she given a rape kit from jump strete and somebody PLEASE tell me her rapist is well on his way to 1) prison and 2) no longer being her stepfather.

    Anyone who is Catholic knows the strong disapproval of abortions the catholic church has, when you join any group and go against any of its rules or proverbs or doctrines there are consequences. I’m sure this will not stop the mother from believing what she wants to believe as far as religion goes. My heart goes out to that little girl, I hope her situation at home has improved and that she understand none of this was her fault.

  13. akeeyu
    akeeyu March 6, 2009 at 12:21 pm |

    Christ on a crutch.

    I had twins last year. The pregnancy was about fifteen stops past ‘unpleasant’ and went into life threatening multiple times. I CHOSE it, though. That’s the difference.

    Oh, and just have a c-section? Are they on glue? Because, see, I started bleeding out during mine and had to have blood transfusions, so I fail to see how a c-section is somehow magical and nifty and risk free and what the fuck, people?

  14. Ali
    Ali March 6, 2009 at 12:22 pm |

    @ ThickRedGlasses,
    If you have the chance read Good Catholic Girls for examples of women who are trying to change/fix the church from the inside out.

    But yeah, this is horrifying and disgusting and all the good thoughts I can spare right now are going towards that little girl and her family (sans stepfather).

  15. Ali
    Ali March 6, 2009 at 12:26 pm |

    Phenicks, as far as what I’ve read, she didn’t get a rape kit because no one knew what was happening until she was already about 15 weeks pregnant. She had been abused by that man for 3 years already, she probably had no clue she was pregnant and it probably goes without saying that he threatened her into keeping quiet about his abuse.

  16. idyllicmollusk
    idyllicmollusk March 6, 2009 at 12:46 pm |

    Well, let’s keep in mind that Catholic hospitals are opposed to providing EC because there is a minute, theoretical possibility that EC could kill a pre-implantation fertilzed egg.

    It’s like a Kafkaesque Catch-22. Only not fiction.

  17. Natalia
    Natalia March 6, 2009 at 12:47 pm |

    As I wrote on my blog – seems some people get off on the “holy” suffering of a woman’s body. Especially an unwilling woman’s body. It’s beautiful, dontcha know.

  18. Phenicks
    Phenicks March 6, 2009 at 12:49 pm |

    3 years? How did she not know that he was raping her daughter for three years? Her belly was swelling for 4 months and nobody noticed?! Ugh! With twins she has to be huge and you could see them moving around in there in a grown full figured woman. I’m having a hard time believing that no one knew she was pregnant until she need a more invasive form of abortion. Gosh I feel for that poor little baby girl. 3 years?! There’s a HUGE difference in getting an abortion as a grown woman because you want to and being a 9 year old rape victim getting an abortion and probably not even truly understanding what pregnancy or abortion means.

  19. Phenicks
    Phenicks March 6, 2009 at 12:53 pm |

    PS EC trumps abortion when you’re dealing with a child THAT young, she should never be raped of course but neither should she be pregnant to need an abortion. A woman’s right to choose is because a woman understands and knwos she’s doing, a woman can consent to sex int he first place. A CHILD a girl not even in her pre teen years need not even know what pregnancy is like.

  20. earlgreyrooibos
    earlgreyrooibos March 6, 2009 at 12:57 pm |

    3 years? How did she not know that he was raping her daughter for three years?

    If the stepfather was manipulative enough, he probably could easily have convinced the child to keep it a secret. It’s not uncommon for rape/incest to go on for months/years because the abuser does such a good job of making sure the child keeps the secret.

    Her belly was swelling for 4 months and nobody noticed?! Ugh! With twins she has to be huge and you could see them moving around in there in a grown full figured woman.

    I’m pretty sure that even at 16 weeks, the feti would not be so developed that you could see them moving around, even in a 9-year-old body.

  21. The Opoponax
    The Opoponax March 6, 2009 at 1:03 pm |

    How did she not know that he was raping her daughter for three years? Her belly was swelling for 4 months and nobody noticed?! Ugh!

    And yet again who gets the blame for abuse? Not the person who actually perpetrated it, but the victim and other (female, of course) outside observers.

    Anytime “but HOW could they not have known?!” comes up in a conversation like this — hell, in ANY conversation about kids/parenting/whatever — I kind of want to punch a wall.

  22. Superlagirl
    Superlagirl March 6, 2009 at 1:04 pm |

    Phenicks,

    Dude. This is how child abuse works: Everyone in the child’s life actively ignores all signs of it until it can’t possible be denied. And even then, people will try. Even when she grows up and tells her own story, people will try to silence her.

    We can all act horrified and ask why no one noticed earlier, but if there are any children in your life right now, chances are you know someone who is being abused. It might not always be this extreme, but it is everywhere.

  23. Ali
    Ali March 6, 2009 at 1:25 pm |

    I’m pretty sure that even at 16 weeks, the feti would not be so developed that you could see them moving around, even in a 9-year-old body.

    Agreed earlgreyrooibus. My mother worked with someone last year who didn’t know she was pregnant until she went into labor. She hardly gained any weight and she attributed all her symptoms to going through menopause since she was the right age for it.

  24. Phenicks
    Phenicks March 6, 2009 at 1:27 pm |

    Oppo I dont know if you have kids or not but THAT attitude *hmph* you need to KNOW when your child is hurt or upset about something and PROBE about why. When someone is abused like that over time you can see it in a child, all it takes is for you to actually PAY ATTENTION. The vicitm is not being blamed here, the mother was not raped she MARRIEd a pedphile who raped her child, repeatedly most likely in her home over a 3 year time span. ANd get off your high horse, seriously, I’ve said my piece about the stepfather, the mother is NOT the vicitm so don’t raise her to some holy high ground, she was the ONLY one who could have stopped this but somehow for three years and 4 months into an 80 pound 9 years old’s pregnancy she didn’t know. I call bullsh*t. Most children of sexual abuse are abused by a parent usually male and the mother in the equation usually is turning her back to it because she doesnt look at it as abuse right awya but as cheating, despicable sad but true. I happen to think this was the case here. COncern for that child should have been made long before it got to this point.

    Twins tend to show MUCH sooner than singletons I’ve had a baby, my cousin is an ob/gyn neither of us know of a single woman whose hasd twins who didnt show at 4 months and when the DOCTORS said her uterus would not have been able to support ONE child full term that means it was stretched thin which means any movement was visible movement in a person whose uterus was stretched thin and full who was already small in size. This is simple science here.

    I have a son, I have lots of small relatives and if anyone is abused I usually know it, even if the abuse is “small scale” emotion or verbal which happens far more often than people think. Yelling at your child is verbal abuse, period no matter what. Ignoring your child is emotionally and psychologically considered to be abusive, period. BThat is not easy to spot unles syou witness the abuse, a child who has been sexually abused or physically abuse dis a lot easier to spot because of the behavior typically associated with child abuse victims of that magnitude.

  25. Endor
    Endor March 6, 2009 at 1:39 pm |

    “Nd get off your high horse, seriously, I’ve said my piece about the stepfather, the mother is NOT the vicitm so don’t raise her to some holy high ground”

    Ah not victim-blaming, just the same old misogyny that goes hand-in-hand with victim-blaming. Excellent. Thanks for clearing that up. it’s simply a marvel to see how much you know about the mother and what she shoulda/coulda based on absolutely NO information. That’s a marvelous superpower you have.

  26. Jill
    Jill March 6, 2009 at 1:40 pm | *

    Wow, Phenicks. The mother was “the only one” who could have stopped this? I’m actually pretty sure that the rapist could have stopped it too. And no, it’s not always easy to spot a child who is being sexually abused. I’m glad you seem to know EVERY single abusive situation that your relatives suffer from, but for most people, it can be awfully hard to see — and victims and abusers often take great pains to hide what’s going on. You also seem to be operating under the assumption that a man who is raping a 9-year-old isn’t also abusive to his wife. I’m not sure that’s a safe assumption to make.

    This isn’t my thread, but I suspect Cara won’t mind if I make the point that it’s not about shaming the girl’s mother, who has gone through what sounds like an awful ordeal. We need to put blame where blame is due: On the rapist for raping her, and on the Church for punishing the people who tried to help. Further discussion of the mother’s fault is, in my opinion, victim-shaming.

  27. earlgreyrooibos
    earlgreyrooibos March 6, 2009 at 1:45 pm |

    Even when she grows up and tells her own story, people will try to silence her.

    This is why I still don’t speak much about how I was molested by my friend’s older brother when I was 6 (he was 17-18); because nobody knew what was going on and I have been continually silenced about it, saying I did not know what was actually going on, I was making it up, etc. People do not believe me.

    Phenicks, I was abused as a kid, but it never happened under my parents’ roof; they really had no clue what was going on. I was shamed into not telling by both my friend and the brother who was molesting me. And when I tried to talk about it when I was older, the people I should have been able to trust just did not listen.

    Nor did I have any bruises, cuts, or anything else that provided physical evidence of the abuse. There were no witnesses, nobody to stand up for me.

  28. maggie
    maggie March 6, 2009 at 2:03 pm |

    Jesus, Mary and Saint fucking Joseph.

    Just when you thought the bar couldn’t go any lower.

  29. Superlagirl
    Superlagirl March 6, 2009 at 2:05 pm |

    I realize I spoke out of turn in my earlier comment. I don’t this girl’s situation. I just know that when I was being abused as a child, it felt like everyone around me was trying to pretend it wasn’t happening. It’s easy to think that you would notice, you would have done something. I think the truth is that most of us are trained to ignore it. We talk about kids being ‘stubborn’ or ‘whiny’ or ‘shy’ or ‘brats.’ These are all ways that we silence children and dismiss their experiences so that we don’t have to know what their lives are really like.

    Again, I might be projecting here. This stuff hits too close to home for me.

  30. Phenicks
    Phenicks March 6, 2009 at 2:21 pm |

    Jill if he was indeed abusing his wife as a MOTHER it was her responsibility to make sure he never hurt her child and that includes never leaving him alone with her in the first place under any circumstances. The daughter did NOT choose to maryr this guy, did NOT choose to be left alone with him she did NOT choose to be raped. I don’t know if you have children Jill but if you did could you honestly believe that someone would be raping your child REPEATEDLY in your home for THREE YEARS and you not have the slightest little inkling that this person was hurting your kid in any way? Seriously?

    This isn’t some glip of judgement where a guy comes along was always great with the kid and then boom pounce don her and went about his merry way, he was doing this for years. No doubt the little girl didn’t tell she was afraid. Its easy to look at things like this form the point of it never happening to someone you know or never being close enough to ever have been affected by it and think you should NEVER blame the other parent for not stopping it. In ANY violent crime, the criminal is the first offender, the people who sit around and let it happen ar ejust as guilty even though the laws says its not. Hell the mother could have WATCHED him do it and not gone to jail for not stopping it here in the US and most people would have said “you poor thing you were probably too afriad to move.” That kind of thinking is why child abuse is as prevelent as it is now because no one has a responsbility morally or otherwise to protect the child and no one but the person who did it and never the ones who let it happen or pretended it wasn’t happening go about playing victim. This little girl isn;t a fetus, she’s 9 years odl on earth and deserved much better than “I didn’t know”, sorry you disagree.

  31. Ali
    Ali March 6, 2009 at 2:22 pm |

    (((earlgreyrooibos & Superlagirl)))

    I think the truth is that most of us are trained to ignore it. We talk about kids being ’stubborn’ or ‘whiny’ or ’shy’ or ‘brats.’ These are all ways that we silence children and dismiss their experiences so that we don’t have to know what their lives are really like.

    Indeed. When I was a child I was very withdrawn, argued constantly with my parents, and constantly contemplated ways to kill myself (8 year old Ali: What would be better, my mom’s diet pills or all the tylenol in the house?). I was never abused, I was just horribly depressed. But no one offered me help of any kind whether for depression or because of fears of abuse. My parents just thought I was a problem child. It’s far too easy to miss whatever warning signs there may be, especially when you think it can never happen to your kid / your friend’s kid.

    Now back on track of the original post, the Catholic Church needs to get it’s head out of it’s ass and realize that living breathing people deserve “sanctity of life” too.

  32. Ali
    Ali March 6, 2009 at 2:26 pm |

    fuck off phenicks

  33. The Opoponax
    The Opoponax March 6, 2009 at 2:28 pm |

    Oppo I dont know if you have kids or not but THAT attitude *hmph* you need to KNOW when your child is hurt or upset about something and PROBE about why.

    Oh, I agree with you that it would be super-swell if parents, as a rule, could read their children’s minds. But the reality is that they can’t, that the vast majority of the time parents don’t know fuck all what’s going on in their kids’ inner lives, and that this is how abuse goes pretty much as a rule. I would absolutely love it if the human genome evolved to include some kind of abuse warning gene. But right now that unfortunately does not exist.

    Blaming the mother for abuse she clearly didn’t know was happening is fucked,sorry.

  34. chingona
    chingona March 6, 2009 at 2:30 pm |

    Hasn’t the Catholic Church beatified women who died rather than have abortions?

    Yes, they have, and Gianna Molla was raised to sainthood in 2004.

    Several years back, there was a telenovela out of Peru that was funded and produced by a Catholic group that featured a woman who becomes pregnant from a rape (the rapist had a fight with her boyfriend, so to get back at the boyfriend, he rapes her), nearly has an abortion, doesn’t, is rejected by her boyfriend and family, is found by her rapist, who stalks her, but then she comes to love the rapist and they marry with the fairy tale wedding that ends most telenovelas. Oh, and the rapist is redeemed by his love for the child created by the rape. The name of it is escaping me, but it was very popular and quite the phenomenon.

  35. Mighty Ponygirl
    Mighty Ponygirl March 6, 2009 at 2:38 pm |

    No one ever thinks a person they love, care about, or are friends with, could be a rapist. People will go through incredible mental and emotional gymnastics to reassure themselves that their friend couldn’t possibly be “that bad.”

  36. Gregory Greene
    Gregory Greene March 6, 2009 at 3:04 pm |

    The archbishop refers to God’s Law. However, abortion is nowhere forbidden in the Bible; indeed, it isn’t even mentioned. So the Church applies the fifth commandment: Thou shalt not kill. Look who’s talking–the Catholic Church ranks right behind folks like Nero, Caligula, Hitler, and Stalin when it comes to killing those who have disagreed with it over the centuries. If the Church had had its way, the girl would have died a slow and painful death, with her twins, when they would have grown too big for her little body. Killed by the Church, all three of them. Thou shalt not kill, indeed.

    The mother and the doctors have been excommunicated. But not the stepfather, he who broke an actual command in God’s Law: Do not have sexual relations with both a woman and her daughter. (Lev. 18:17) The punishment to be administered is spelled out in clear: Everyone who does any of these detestable things—such persons must be cut off from their people. (Lev. 18:29) Excommunication, that is. Commanded in God’s Law, but not carried out by the Church, because the poor sinner is a man. In the eyes of the Church, he’s still a Catholic in good standing.

    The misogynism of conservative so-called Christians comes from the same Middle Eastern tradition as that of conservative Muslims like the Taleban: Woman, even at nine years old, is but a vessel meant to bear sons for a man. She has no rights, particularly not over her own body. If there are complications with a pregnancy and a choice has to be made, always let the woman die: she has no value.

    For more on failed religious institutions, read my free book.

  37. Thais Lombardi
    Thais Lombardi March 6, 2009 at 3:18 pm |

    Well, I’m Brazilian, and I am completely horrified by the whole case. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon, but it’s still awful. The Church is getting more and more ridiculous every day, so I’m not really concerned about it, but, in fact, it has a great influence over Brazilian people, and that’s the real problem. Many people still believe that she shouldn’t have done the abortion. It’s pretty sad.

    About the stepfather, the archbishop said:

    “He comitted a huge crime, but he is not included in the excommunication.” […] “This stepfather comitted a serious sin. But do you know what is worse than that? Abortion, getting rid of an innocent life.” [Source: g1.globo.com; my translation]

    Vatican also approves the decision, which is not surprising, after all.

    I hope someone kicks Ratzinger nazi ass.

  38. Persia
    Persia March 6, 2009 at 3:19 pm |

    no one offered me help of any kind whether for depression or because of fears of abuse.

    Ali, I was in the same boat in my early teen years. Sometimes people just don’t want to see it. I’m glad you’re here now to talk about it.

    I suppose it’s a bit of a relief that the Catholic Church is ‘practicing what they preach,’ isn’t it? The sheer hatred in this is so obvious no one can argue about it. I’ve heard Evangelical churches are doing quite well in Latin America; I wouldn’t be surprised if they gain a few more converts out of this.

  39. Jadelyn
    Jadelyn March 6, 2009 at 3:25 pm |

    woman who becomes pregnant from a rape (the rapist had a fight with her boyfriend, so to get back at the boyfriend, he rapes her), nearly has an abortion, doesn’t, is rejected by her boyfriend and family, is found by her rapist, who stalks her, but then she comes to love the rapist and they marry with the fairy tale wedding that ends most telenovelas. Oh, and the rapist is redeemed by his love for the child created by the rape.

    That is just…beyond fucking disturbing. *twitch* Do people really think this is how it’s supposed to be? Are they gonna add another commandment, “Thou Shalt Love Thy Rapist And His Spawn”? Gah. This shit just…there are no words.

    And you notice the only reason they didn’t excommunicate the girl is because she’s a minor? Too young to be excommunicated, but surely old enough to bear her raping stepfather’s twin babies that would have killed her…epic fail. The logic just isn’t even there.

  40. mojo
    mojo March 6, 2009 at 4:04 pm |

    The solution is education. We should be fighting wars to ensure free education to women and little girls worldwide.

    Statistically, higher educated women have higher self esteem and are more likely to attract more stable men.

    The next solution is remove the opportunity for repeat offenses of the “criminal” (in this case the rapist). The article we should have been exposed to would have been 1 sentence about the “survivor” and 4 paragraphs about the conviction, consequences, and punishment to the offender.

    Prevention, prevention, prevention.

  41. earlgreyrooibos
    earlgreyrooibos March 6, 2009 at 4:21 pm |

    Statistically, higher educated women have higher self esteem and are more likely to attract more stable men.

    Okay, I hope you’re talking about the girl’s mother. It doesn’t make that statement much better, because it still sounds like you’re blaming the mother for the girl’s abuse, but it’s better than suggesting that a 9-year-old could have prevented her own abuse through more education and higher self-esteem. That just makes no sense.

    But even if you are talking about the mother, this assertion is really problematic. This woman was attracted to a rapist because of her low self-esteem? Maybe she didn’t know about the abuse at all. Or maybe if the stepfather was also abusive to the mother, his abusive traits did not appear until after they got married. Even well-educated women marry men who are or become abusive.

  42. The Opoponax
    The Opoponax March 6, 2009 at 4:26 pm |

    Yeah, I was really hoping the second paragraph of mojo’s post was going to be: “Statistically, higher educated people are less likely to give a frack how the Catholic Church feels about their sad family situations.”

  43. Someone
    Someone March 6, 2009 at 4:28 pm |

    I’m listening to Pandora.com, and as I was reading this, VNV Nation’s “Nemesis” came on. Very fitting.

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  46. Natalia
    Natalia March 6, 2009 at 4:43 pm |

    I’m going to chime in here as a child abuse survivor – abusers are opportunists and tend to be *great* at covering up their tracks, particularly when they make their young victims think – “nobody will believe me anyway” or else “I am too far gone, I am disgusting, I don’t deserve help.”

    I know, for example, that my abuser did not strike until my parents started having serious problems at work, which meant less time with me, more dependence on extended family, more stress, less room family conversation, etc. He didn’t set it up this way – he just happened to exploit an opportunity, and exploit it well. The difficult dynamics of my family situation had already caused internal conflict for me, so it was then easier for him to groom me, and resign to what was happening. The older I get, the more I realize how this sort of thing is common.

    We don’t know this girl’s whole story, probably never will – but I’m willing to bet that her rapist was also exploiting an opportunity.

  47. On Rape, Catholicism, and Priorities - AGAIN « Natalia Antonova

    […] For about this on Feministe – here and […]

  48. Anne
    Anne March 6, 2009 at 7:09 pm |

    Phenicks,
    Regarding your entire comment at #32, I’m delurking to say:

    As someone who grew up being abused by her father and as a rape victim, I would never blame my mother for the things my dad did to me or for not knowing I was raped.

    My mom knew he hit us and she didn’t always step in when it happened in front of her though she sometimes did. There were plenty of times when I took beatings for her or for my brothers because I would step in and my dad would turn his attention to me. And there were plenty of times when I’d watch and feel sorry for that family member, but I wouldn’t step in because I really didn’t feel like getting punched, kicked, smacked, screamed at, starved, or have my hair pulled that night. There are only so many nights a week a person can handle getting their ass kicked and being screamed at for hours. My mom is an awesome human being, not an inhumane savior.

    As far as leaving us alone with him – she had to. She couldn’t always take all us kids with her and she wasn’t going to be banished to her home 24-7 just because he hit us sometimes. That’s life.

    My mom didn’t know I was raped for the longest time because I didn’t want her to know.

  49. Katlyn
    Katlyn March 6, 2009 at 7:25 pm |

    Okay, Phenicks, so what you’re saying is that the mother KNEW her 9 yr old daughter was being raped but did nothing? That’s the only conclusion you can come to?
    Wow, you are such an asshole.

  50. victoria
    victoria March 6, 2009 at 8:22 pm |

    I just want to send out much love and support to every abuse survivor here reading and sharing their stories. Y’all are amazing and brave and beautiful.

    (and chalking up another day of being angered and saddened by the male leaders in the church i’ve called my spiritual home for so long)

  51. Amy
    Amy March 6, 2009 at 9:00 pm |

    Phenicks, you’re dumb. Seriously. Being raped over 3 years, we don’t know how many times it happened, we don’t know if it happened in the home, we don’t know that it was the mothers home (though men own way more property than women so it probably wasn’t her home). You’re arguing is if you KNOW what happened and all the circumstanced surrounding it. It may have happened a handful of times over three years in the middle of the night. How would the mother know then?
    Why am I even arguing this? Its beside the point. The rape of the child is the rapists fault. End of discussion.

  52. Thais Lombardi
    Thais Lombardi March 6, 2009 at 9:59 pm |

    Folks, I am commenting here again to ask you a big favor. This (aor@hotlink.com.br) is the archbishop’s e-mail. Please, write something to him. Say something, be angry, I don’t know, just, please, express your feelings about this absurd. It doesn’t matter that it’s written in English, the point is just letting them know that the whole world is aware and not enjoying it.

    Please, do spend ten minute to do it. It has to stop!

    Thank you.

  53. victoria
    victoria March 6, 2009 at 10:31 pm |

    Thank you, Thais. I emailed His Eminence a Bible verse that I think is appropriate. Something that Jesus said:

    (Matt. 18:6) “If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

  54. MomTFH
    MomTFH March 6, 2009 at 11:47 pm |

    Thanks for removing Phenicks, Cara.

    Sorry for any abuse survivors who were troubled by her comments.

  55. Natalia
    Natalia March 7, 2009 at 5:32 am |

    Thanks, Thais.

    I e-mailed.

  56. MomTFH
    MomTFH March 7, 2009 at 9:29 am |

    My email:

    YOU get to pick and choose what you consider to be the greatest offenses against God and the Catholic Church. Your priorities make me sick, and the whole world is horrified.

    Thanks for making abortion seem more reasonable. I hope the backlash against your actions makes reproductive rights more available in Brazil soon.

  57. chava
    chava March 7, 2009 at 10:33 am |

    Ugh. There’s not much to say, is there? Poor dear. The Catholic church is getting a more and more extremist grip on Latin America. Ugh.

    As for the whole “but her Mother should have known! The mother could have stopped it!”–my stepmother and her brother were abused for 5 years. By who? HER STEPMOTHER. You know who was never shamed for it? Who knew about the whole thing? Who my stepmother still can’t blame? HER FATHER. This is part of our whole mother-as-sacred-cow (literally and figuratively) BS.

    Yes, her mother might have known. It does happen. But we have NO WAY of knowing that–and she clearly risked excommunication (and got it) to do the right thing in the end.

  58. chava
    chava March 7, 2009 at 10:46 am |

    Just wanted to add that this thing of “blame the doctors” seems to be prevalent in the discussion around abortion with pro-lifers. It is always the doctors fault for pressuring/not informing the women, etc. I used to think that this was to avoid looking too awful politically if they shamed the women directly. However I am starting to think that it is more about the ingrained idea that we do not have enough mental or emotional capacity to make these decision like…well…men.

  59. CassieC
    CassieC March 7, 2009 at 12:37 pm |

    This type of horrific story reminds of this one. In the 80s, there was a case in Spain where a high court decided that an 8 year old who had been repeatedly raped by her uncle was (a) too young to consent to have an abortion and (b) old enough that she consented to the rapes. My head still explodes when I think of it. There was a mega-shit storm and the girl got an abortion, and Spain is slightly more reasonable these days. But Jesus fucking Christ.

  60. CartoonCoyote
    CartoonCoyote March 7, 2009 at 4:19 pm |

    I truly wanted to believe that there was some mistake when I first read this story elsewhere, i.e. that the stepfather actually WAS included in the excommunication. That my first reading bore out the actual case is just the rotten cherry on top of the fecal matter cake.

    The only possible good thing that may come out of this whole incident at this point is that a few more people will do the same thing I did at 17: Say out loud “FUCK the Catholic Church” and leave it behind for good. It’s an institution run by psychopaths, and this is just exhibit # 1,637. To the good folks who remain members of the organization, I hope you’ll find another umbrella under which to worship your god; this one needs to be rendered irrelevant and defunct as soon as fucking possible.

  61. 9 Year Old’s Abortion Leads to Her Mother’s Excommunication « The Czech

    […] H/t Feministe. […]

  62. victoria
    victoria March 7, 2009 at 5:00 pm |

    News reports are now stating that Vatican officials are supporting the decision of the archbishop. I’m literally feeling sick in my gut. I had one tiny little thread of hope that this was a case of a local church official going way too far and then quietly being reined in behind the scenes by his superiors. But no, the boys at the top are defending their own.

  63. Karen
    Karen March 7, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  64. Thais Lombardi
    Thais Lombardi March 7, 2009 at 5:33 pm |

    Thank you, girls.

  65. Katie
    Katie March 7, 2009 at 6:16 pm |

    @#8 – Bitter Scribe

    I’ve never been to Brazil, but from what I understand, it’s a highly sexualized culture.

    Uh, compared to what culture?

  66. Fred
    Fred March 7, 2009 at 8:17 pm |

    It’s hard to believe that this could happen in the 21st century.

  67. Jovan1984
    Jovan1984 March 7, 2009 at 9:24 pm |

    This story just burns me up. The mother and the OB-GYNs are excommunicated just for supporting her nine-year-old daughter’s right to life, the nine-year-old daughter’s right to liberty and the nine-year-old daughter’s right to the pursuit of her happiness.

    This is proof that the Catholic Church would rather support pedophiles’/rapists’ parental rights than to support women’s/girls’ rights.

    To Fred: you better believe it. These churches are stuck on a 1st century mentality.

    I also wrote something about this as well:

    http://aikenareaprogressive.blogspot.com/2009/03/christians-catholics-and-us-republicans.html

    Catholicism and Christianity treat women worse than dogs. And this case proves it.

  68. Ayliea
    Ayliea March 7, 2009 at 10:08 pm |

    Why am I not surprised to read this about the Catholic Church? Since it is all right for the Catholic Priests to molest little boys, then it goes to follow that it is fine and dandy for a Step-father to rape his 9 year old step daughter, impregnate her, and HE IS NOT EXCOMMUNICATED! Why does this NOT surprise me? Because the Catholic Church seems to think that a MAN can do no wrong, yet a little girl – a 9 year old little girl should have to pay the price of being reaped by a PIG of a Step-father and her mother and doctor are excommunicated. She should have CTT – ruined her life, possibly DIED and that’s okay to subject a little 9 year old girl to, and yet the rapist isn’t excommunicated? What is WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE? WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE WORLD AND WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THE CATHOLIC CHURCH!?

  69. shah8
    shah8 March 7, 2009 at 10:28 pm |

    Persia, the protestant groups that are getting converts are worse than the Catholic Church. If anything, if they had an effect, it was in making the Catholic Church try to protect its flank by being this ridiculous.

    Radical evangelical groups have been spreading like wildfire throughout the third world and the Church have been steadily growing more conservative itself.

  70. Alas, a blog » Blog Archive » Pro-lifers tried to force 9-year-old rape victim to give birth to twins

    […] Cara says that as far as she can tell the rapist hasn’t been excommunicated. […]

  71. delicious « Better burn that dress, sister.

    […] Feministe » Catholic Church Excommunicates Mother and Doctors Over 9-Year-Old Rape Victim’s Abort… “It’s believed that the rape was committed by her step-father. The girl was not only pregnant at that young age, but also pregnant with twins. And so, as makes perfect sense, she had an abortion. Because she was raped, because she was much to young to have a child, and because the stress of having twins would of course have been far too much for a 9-year-old’s body to handle. And she could have died. Now, the Catholic Church has excommunicated both the girl’s mother and the doctors who performed the abortion, which likely saved the girl’s life.” […]

  72. William
    William March 8, 2009 at 1:14 pm |

    . It is always the doctors fault for pressuring/not informing the women, etc. I used to think that this was to avoid looking too awful politically if they shamed the women directly. However I am starting to think that it is more about the ingrained idea that we do not have enough mental or emotional capacity to make these decision like…well…men.

    I’m sure thats a big part of it, but another part is raw pragmatism. Going after women does little to stem abortion because some women will always want abortions and will have very strong motivations for that desire. But women cannot, generally or safely, self-abort; doctors and special are a necessary part of modern abortion. Doctors (and other support staff) are likely to have a less strong motivation to provide abortion services than women are to want an abortion, making them an easier target. Perhaps more importantly, dissuading one doctor from performing an abortion prevents many more abortions than dissuading one woman.

    Never underestimate the horror of a fanatic’s logic.

  73. Thais Lombardi
    Thais Lombardi March 8, 2009 at 11:35 pm |

    Katie, this is not a lie. Brazilian culture IS really pretty much sexualized. I feel kind of ashamed about that, and I’ve been fighting against it for my whole life, but it’s harsh. And it only gets worse.

  74. Bruce
    Bruce March 9, 2009 at 1:31 am |

    Under Roman Catholic canon law, everyone who aids an abortion is by automatic penalty excommunicated latae sententiae, i.e. by the act itself without further formality. In other words, the bishop did not so much excommunicate these folks as confirm their prior excommunication by their very acts themselves. This law applies to all Roman rite Catholics, i.e. Catholics not of the Eastern Churches such as the Byzantine Catholics, etc.

  75. Farhat
    Farhat March 9, 2009 at 5:26 am |

    Good for them. They have more freedom and can lead their lives in more productive ways!

  76. Ali
    Ali March 9, 2009 at 10:21 am |

    Catholic Priests to molest little boys

    Not denying this Ayliea, I just want to point out that some of the priests also molested countless girls and women. Regardless, it was horrible no matter who the victim was.

  77. ideealisme
    ideealisme March 9, 2009 at 1:02 pm |

    Wow. Words fail me. The conduct of the Church in this matter is beyond disgusting. Thank you for bringing this to attention.

  78. Carol
    Carol March 9, 2009 at 2:34 pm |

    Is the step-father Catholic? If not, he can’t be excommunicated. Or if he’s already been excommunicated, he can’t be double-dog-dare-ya excommunicated.

  79. Jill
    Jill March 9, 2009 at 2:45 pm | *

    Carol, read the links. The Church says that it has decided not to excommunicate the step-father. That pretty strongly implies that he can be excommunicated, but hasn’t been.

  80. SmithingChick
    SmithingChick March 9, 2009 at 3:52 pm |

    Shit like this is exactly why I left the Catholic Church years ago & will never go back, no matter how many novenas my Mom says…

  81. Tackling Abuse « I’ll Follow the Sun

    […] Here’s another horrible example of victim-blaming, this one in Brazil, just in case you’re wondering if this is really as wide-spread as I am suggesting. […]

  82. Kyu
    Kyu March 10, 2009 at 1:18 pm |

    I read this and was so gratified to hear so much less total crap here than I’ve been hearing elsewhere. I’m a Jew, so I can sort of watch this from the outside looking in, and yet I’m still gratified that nobody seems to be making the blanket leap that because the Church’s policies are disgusting and anti-female (never mind anti-feminist!), all Catholics must be evil. I’ve literally seen that said on other sites, and I commend the people here for focusing on what really matters … the policy of an ancient, irrelevant institution run by misogyny and greed, and anything we can do about it.

  83. mojo
    mojo March 18, 2009 at 2:22 pm |

    “Educated women are more likely to resist abuses such as domestic violence, traditions like female genital cutting, and discrimination at home, in society or the workplace.” – Herz, p. 6

    Education not only provides tools, it may increase a woman’s self esteem when choosing a mate. It also may increase the opportunity for better jobs, salary, and possibly more flexible work hours.

    Education may help provide a broader scope in choosing religious beliefs.

    It is not the mother’s fault. It is not the little girls fault.

    Blame is a waste of time. Prevention is progress.

    1. Educate women.

    2. Ensure that the criminal (rapist) will not re-offend.

    These are certainly not answers. They are just suggestions to move toward PROGRESS.

  84. mojo
    mojo March 18, 2009 at 2:44 pm |

    And… I don’t agree with pushing away Phenicks’ point of view regarding repeated abuse and witnesses. What about neighbors, sisters, brothers, friends? How can we make possible witnesses (in many cases) feel safer to come to the aid of the victim? Change the laws?

  85. Daniel
    Daniel May 5, 2009 at 1:32 pm |

    You know, at least you ought to know because you make huge claims about the catholic church, that under paragraph 2356 of canon law that the church declares rape an intrinsically immoral act and that its even worse when it is a parent. but of course you would never mention this because, of course, you really hate the church on illogical grounds. In fact, if you understood it properly, you would see that the church is actually the best force in the world for all people, especially women. Women are better treated in that religion than in any other in the world.

    Good Response to this Feministe article

  86. Daniel
    Daniel May 5, 2009 at 1:35 pm |

    Oh and for those haters out there, the father cannot receive communion or any other sacraments until he repents of his sin and confesses it. He is basically automatically excommunicated by his action. The church does not feel the need to excommunicate him because he has already done so, while with the mother and the “doctors” they did something that is less clearly evil at least in the way the media portrays it.

  87. Bendin' In the Wind
    Bendin' In the Wind June 3, 2009 at 6:27 pm |

    I know I’m a month late to this, but…
    Daniel, shut the fucking fuck up. “Women are better treated in that religion than in any other in the world.” No, they are fucking not. They are specifically labeled as property and subservient to men. The church uses its shitty rhetoric to downgrade women daily, especially on the subject of reproductive rights.
    As a Catholic, you are brainwashed to believe the bullshit that comes from the Bible and canon law and anything else an official of the church says. You are NOT any kind of reliable, reasonable source on the church.
    Take your opinions and kindly shove them up your sphincter.

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