Things That Matter

A 5-Year-Old Girl Was Abandoned By Her Parents And Found Chained To Her Bed In Mexico

More often than we might like, headlines tend to describe literal, living nightmares—and the recent story about a 5-year-old girl abandoned by her parents in Mexico is no exception. On January 3, a young girl was found in an empty house in San Luis Potosi, tethered to her bed by a rusty chain. Neighbors had heard cries for help coming from the house and notified the local police. When authorities arrived on the scene, they discovered that the girl was living in terrible conditions: not only was she alone, but she was surrounded by piles of trash and filth. Mexican newspaper Excelsior reported that investigators also found a small bucket near the bed, which the child was forced to use as a toilet. She had bruises on her leg and ankle from the metal cuff. After noting her injuries, police transferred her to a local hospital where and she was found to be in stable condition. As of now, the state prosecutor’s office is collaborating with child protective services and police in an attempt to locate the child’s parents.

Not much is yet known about this child (her name is not being released), and no arrests have yet been made. But what we do know is that her situation is not unique.

When searching for information about this story, countless results recounting nearly identical situations appeared, with headlines like “Girl, 6, Was Chained to Bed for 5 Years in Norco Home;” and “‘They’re Chained Up to Their Bed’: Hear 911 Call From Girl Who Escaped Captivity, Saved Her 12 Siblings.” Although each case offers its own twisted nuances, we can’t help but wonder: How is it possible that this horror story of captivity, abuse, and neglect is so common?

The tale that garnered the most media attention in recent years—mentioned in the above headline about a girl who escaped to save her 12 siblings—chronicles the experience of the Turpin children, all of whom were held captive by their parents over the course of almost three decades.

The torture and abuse enacted upon the Turpin children started as neglect, according to officials. In the beginning, the children’s parents would tie them to their beds as a form of punishment, using rope before later graduating to padlocks and chains. At first, the children would only be confined for short periods; but over time, these stints began to stretch longer and longer, sometimes spanning days or weeks, and the siblings—aged 2 to 29—would not be allowed to use the bathroom.

When the siblings were discovered by police in January 2018, almost all of them were severely malnourished. Evidently, when they were not chained up, they were fed very little food according to a strict regimen. Sometimes, the Turpin parents would buy food and place it in plain sight, taunting the children by prohibiting them from tasting it. According to Riverside County District Attorney Michael Hestrin, at the time the siblings were rescued, one 12-year-old weighed what an average 7-year-old might weigh, and the female 29-year-old clocked in at a mere 82 pounds. The family dogs, on the other hand, appeared to be in good spirits and overall good health.

In spite of her emaciated physical condition, the 17-year-old managed to escape by climbing out a window and dialing 911 on a deactivated cell phone (federal law requires that all cell phones be capable of contacting emergency services, even those that are not operational). According to Hestrin, she and some of her siblings had been devising an escape plan for over two years.

So, statistically, how many victims of domestic captivity are able to share successful stories of escape? It’s tough to say, as there is no definitive number of children in domestic captivity, and it’s ultimately impossible to compare the numbers of known cases with unknown, still-active cases.

Plus, experts say that the potential consequences of attempting to escape often deter victims from even trying. Fear of violence and/or punishment—paired with psychological conditions like Stockholm Syndrome, which occurs when captives become emotionally attached to their captors—is often a major reason that captives don’t try to flee. Long periods of abuse can also lead to a loss of perspective in victims, causing them to feel grateful for any sort of lull in abuse and potentially falling into complacency or acceptance when the abuse is paused or slowed.  

Although the children mentioned above were held captive by their own parents, human trafficking—and especially the trafficking of young children—continues to be a pervasive global issue. According to the latest global estimates, 25 million adults and children are currently being exploited for forced labor, and that is not a comprehensive metric. The statistics surrounding the breadth of human exploitation are staggering, and if you suspect that someone is a victim of trafficking, the National Human Trafficking Hotline is the best resource. Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free at 1-888-373-7888: Anti-Trafficking Hotline Advocates are available 24/7 to take any and all reports of potential cases.

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The Dominican Republic Finally Outlaws Child Marriage After Years of Campaigning by Girls’ Rights Activists

Fierce

The Dominican Republic Finally Outlaws Child Marriage After Years of Campaigning by Girls’ Rights Activists

Image via Getty

Outside of the U.S., some good news has occurred amidst a week that has otherwise been full of mayhem and chaos.

On Wednesday, the Dominican Republic’s Executive Branch approved a law that unilaterally bans child marriage in its country.

In the past, children younger than 18 were allowed to marry with a special exemption from a judge. These exemptions happened often. Now, no woman or man under the age of 18 are allowed to marry under any circumstances in the Dominican Republic.

This move is significant because the Dominican Republic has the highest rates of child marriage in Latin America and the Caribbean. Official government figures show that 36% of Dominican girls and adolescents marry or enter into “unions” before the age of 18. In 12% of these relationships, the female partner was less than 15 years old.

More informal “unions” where a girl simply moves into an older man’s household are also common in the DR. These are very common in higher poverty communities where many girls are considered a financial burden on their families. Unions like these will be harder to penalize because there is no formal documentation of their partnership.

There are multiple factors that play into the Dominican Republic’s high child marriage rate.

One of the main factors is the culture of machismo that informs the way that young men and women approach relationships.

According to research conducted by Plan International, 81% of Dominican girls said they preferred men that were five years older than them. This statistic is in stark contrest to 39% of Dominican men who prefer their partners 18 or younger because they found them more “obedient” and “adaptable”.

Not only that, but there is also a strong cultural expectation for girls and women to become mothers and wives. These cultural beliefs have simply stoked the practice of child marriage.

“Child marriage and early unions are seen as normal in society. It is driven by machismo that sees the role of a woman to be just a mother and wife,” said Rosa Elcarte, UNICEF’s representative in the Dominican Republic, to the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “Ending early unions will require years of work to change cultural norms.”

Feminists and human rights activists consider this law a win after many years campaigning to put an end to this practice.

But on a bittersweet note, many advocates realize that one law doesn’t dismantle the patriarchal structure of their culture that enabled this practice for so long. There is still a lot of work to be done.

“Our girls and adolescents will be protected … and cannot be forced into marriage in their childhood or adolescence, which in the past was often carried out by parents and legally allowed,” said Sonia Hernandez, an associate director of the International Justice Mission, in a statement to NBC News.

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‘Size Fits All Tags’ And ‘Great Clickbait’— People Name The Worst Things That Are Legal

Things That Matter

‘Size Fits All Tags’ And ‘Great Clickbait’— People Name The Worst Things That Are Legal

Beeldbewerking/ Getty

The world is plagued with some crazy and unfair laws, no doubt about it. But what about the things that exist and legal? Why are, for instance, spam callers allowed to trick you by calling from similar numbers to yours? Or, why is it impossible to criminally convict your roommate from keeping you up all night or dipping into your ice-cream and lie about it?

Users on Reddit are asking similar questions and the answers are pretty hilarious but also intriguing.

“I’m just gonna have to say little girl’s beauty pageants. It just doesnt sit right with me. And not only because of the fact it’s creepy, but I feel like it’s stressful on the kid and on their body image.” –kitty-cult

“College book prices and practices. Change a few words in a math book, that’ll be another $100 please. Oh you realized that you can use the book from 10 years ago and succeed? Actually we require you get the new book. Oh you realized you can get the book cheaper from a friend? Actually we’re doing online books now and you need the personalized code. We change it every year even though there have been no breakthroughs in this subject! Knowing the college struggle i have no fucking clue how this is allowed to exist. It should literally be illegal.” –WitlessMean

“Puppy mills.” –thechronicwinter

“Sending letters to home owners labeled ‘IMPORTANT MORTGAGE / FINANCIAL INFO’ or ‘LAST WARNING / NOTICE’ and having the inside look exactly like a bill, letterhead and little box in the corner with figures inside… all to then say ‘refinance with us’ or ‘don’t miss this opportunity for etc etc’ Makes me heart skip every time thinking I’ve forgotten some critical bill until I open it.”- IDUU

“The fact car radio commercials are allowed to have police sirens or car crashes in them as a way to Get your attention.”- jagfanjosh3252

“The size of the ‘x’ button on pop-up ads.” –_Denes_

“Socks: ‘Fits size 6-12.'” –klitorisaurus

“Spice/K2/Synthetic Weed. This may have changed in the last few years but I found it embarrassing that our country locks up thousands for actual marijuana but allowed that shit to be sold at every gas station and liquor store knowing damn good and well that it was hurting and killing people.”-m0ndayisb0ng0day

“You can look up where any one lives because it’s public record. But can we please not have entire websites with data bases full of every person in the country?? I mean think about people who get denied restraining orders and try to move away from their abuser. Six months later and their abuser can just look up their name and find them all over again. This could be detrimental for spouse abuse victims, stalking victims, etc. something should be done about them. It’s terrifying.” –21DrunkPilots

“Lying through your teeth on “news” shows because you claim you’re actually “entertainment”. Even while it has “news” in the title of the station. Being able to lie through your teeth on an opinion show just bc it’s an opinion show. Opinions should be opinions about facts. Opinion should not be an excuse for slander or making knowingly false statements in the media.” –jseego

“No-knock warrants. We’ve seen time and time again where Law Enforcement has the wrong address and some innocent person ends up dead because of a logistical mistake.” –Mr-and-Mrs

“Impossibly hard to cancel subscriptions.” –ungFu-omega-warrior

“Putting unrelated crap into bills to sneak it into law. I know they’re supposed to follow some kind rules related to germaneness, but they clearly don’t, and clearly need actual laws with actual punishments for pulling this crap.” –Gr1pp717

“Multi level Marketing.” –whyykai

“Civil Asset Seizure by Police – No Crimes Needed!”- vegetarianrobots

“The troubled teen industry. Parents pay a company to kidnap kids while they’re sleeping and send them off to ‘therapeutic’ boarding schools where they are abused in every conceivable way.”- MyDongIsAWiFiHotspot

“Sweatshop labor outsourced by tech and Fortune 500 companies. It’s essentially contemporary slavery we collectively allow.”- crumpledForeskin

“Being penalized for calling out sick from work. Edit. Even while the whole world is trying to survive this pandemic, we’re still dealing with this major issue by employers. I work in health care, and I feel like I get shamed by my managers and coworkers when you call out. Especially when you work night shift.” –pongomer

“I (f) bought a car recently. During the process of negotiation I decided I wanted to do more research and the salesman refused to give me the keys to MY car so I could leave. Literally saw me looking for my keys and withheld them while repeatedly saying, ‘But what could I do to get you into this car today?’ I finally demanded my keys but bought the car anyway (they met my asking price and got me the financing I wanted) but I’m SO mad at myself for not making a scene. For allowing that man to hold me hostage and not being outraged. I don’t understand why I didn’t humiliate him and instead meekly just sat and took it. I called the manager the next day. But still. So disappointed in myself…” – UncomonShaman

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