Saturday, June 21, 2008

B.K. Seven Years Ago...

Seven Years Ago..

I was in the amazon this past weekend, and while I was there I got into a deep conversation with one of the bigger honchos of study-abroads in Ecuador. He told me the worst thing that he ever had to deal with in all of his years of doing this program. We were sitting out in hammocks under a tent canopy when he told me about how 7 years ago a female student was raped when she took a trip down to the South of Ecuador with an exchange student that had studied at her school the year previous (and that she lived at the house of in Quito during her semester abroad).

There was a lot involved with the story, like how she had been drinking for the first time, about how a friend of her host sister's brother had taken advantage of her, and about everything happened hours South of Quito, where anyone she knew could have helped her. After it happened she wandered out to the highway and rode on buses for approximately 30 hours, and as the story goes with most rape cases - if evidence is not collected after the first 24 hours you can sit pretty on the fact that you will have to kiss any hope of a case goodbye. However, the man who told me this story then went to the police to address the situation - unfortunately he discovered through police reports that the young man who had committed the rape was the son of a woman who was running for office, and whose uncle was an officer in a neighboring precinct. So this guy couldn't be touched. The man who told me this story then told me the darkest thing that he had admittingly ever done in his years working with the program.

The woman told him that her parents would essentially disown her and blame her for the incident if they ever found out it happened, so with no other way to achieve retribution he paid two detectives approximately 50 dollars each to keep tabs on the guy who raped the exchange student. For a few days they sat outside his residence and watched him as he'd leave home to go to school. In time they trailed him down on his daily commute and pulled him over for a talk. After denying his own identity the two detectives took him into the station and "shoved his head into a toilet full of shit. You see there's this toilet that they never flush at the police station, where they tell the prisoners to go to the bathroom...essentially it's a wonderful interrogation tactic. I told them to make sure that he paid for what he did, and he knew exactly why it was happening."

This was hard for me to hear, it's not what I was taught to do in the case of rape counseling, but then I recognize this man's motivation and I understand his intense rage about the entire situation.

He told me that the rest of the students who were there that semester (all female) were very protective of the woman who had been raped for the rest of their journey. After the semester ended both he and his wife tried to stay in touch with her, but eventually she just vanished, contact stopped and he has no idea what happened to her. Hardest for him because he cared for her like a child as he no doubt did for everyone that came under his care.

But then that is part of life. That is the harsh way in which some people come and go like dust in the wind. Not a strictly bad thing, but unexspressibly painful for everyone involved.

And it happens a lot more than I'd like to think.