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December 01, 2006


On child rape in Madagascar:

The few who press charges are plunged into a criminal justice process that Mr. Mouigni calls deeply frustrating.

He can offer victims who arrive at his station little more than an officer behind a typewriter — no counselors, no video cameras to record testimony, no toy-filled rooms or friendly intermediaries. Instead, girls as young as 5 are expected to confront their tormentors face to face. Perhaps most daunting, poor families must produce at least $15 to cover investigation costs like gloves and paper for medical exams.

The per capita GDP in Madagascar is $900. Per month, that's $75. So, for the mean (not even median, mind you) family, you're asking for 20% of their monthly income just to file a rape case. And for a poor family, you're asking much more than that. And here's the result:

That was nearly enough to deter Claudine Ravoniarisoa, who appeared at Mr. Mouigni’s station one recent Thursday with her 15-year-old daughter. Wringing her hands nonstop, the girl told officers that a neighbor had raped her while her mother was hospitalized. “He destroyed my life and my body,” she said.

But once her mother learned of the costs, she decided to identify the perpetrator only as “Mr. X.”

“I have no money to pursue this,” she protested, while an officer tried to persuade her to do so.

In another room, Domoima Rahamtanirima pressed a case against her brother-in-law in the molestation of her 5-year-old, Menja. For two weeks afterward, Mrs. Rahamtanirima said, the girl cried when she urinated.

Mrs. Rahamtanirima borrowed money for the required medical exam. Nothing was left to buy the medicine the doctor had prescribed for Menja.

December 1, 2006 | Permalink


To take the dry economist line in the face of this horror, such is the effect of the World Bank's crusade for "user fees" and "cost-sharing". Imagine that a World Bank economist would consider subjecting his own children to the nightmare he regularly inflicts on poorer and blacker children with every flick of his pen. Never.

Posted by: Marshall | Dec 1, 2006 4:11:42 PM


Give me a break.

Posted by: DRR | Dec 1, 2006 5:17:13 PM

DDR, you haven't read Laurence Summer's leaked memo on Dirty industries? He claims, apparently seriously, that "The measurements of the costs of health impairing pollution depends on the foregone earnings from increased morbidity and mortality. From this point of view a given amount of health impairing pollution should be done in the country with the lowest cost, which will be the country with the lowest wages."

Translation: They aren't worth as much as my kids.

Oh hey! That's kind of what Marshall was saying!

Posted by: Sam L. | Dec 1, 2006 5:36:11 PM

As an Economics major in good standing, I would add that any academic discipline whose widely-held modes of argument and, to use a political term, conventional wisdom yield Summers' conclusion is a field that is horrifying in its depravity.

Posted by: Marshall | Dec 1, 2006 6:08:39 PM

Sam L., I'm only semi-familiar with that quote, but that has little to do with "user fees" & "Cost sharing" as advocated by the world bank, which in turn, has absolutly nothing to do with child rape in Madagascar or rape law reform.

It's like 3 different threads.

Posted by: DRR | Dec 1, 2006 9:00:19 PM

DRR: What does have to do with cost-sharing is the part of the article about how child rapes can't be prosecuted unless the family comes up with $15 to pay the cost of the rape kit and other supplies. In one case described, the family had to choose between paying that fee and buying medicine for their recently raped daughter.

Posted by: Antid Oto | Dec 1, 2006 11:17:42 PM

Economics is depraved beyond redemption. Every school of economics in the country should be burnt to the ground and the ashes sown with salt, and no economist should ever again be hired for any position of responsibility or public trust.

Posted by: Firebug | Dec 2, 2006 3:16:47 AM

Antid Otto,

Cost sharing & User Fees (as advocated by the World Bank) pertains to health care & sometimes education, not law enforcement. Furthermore, even if it did, you would have to demonstrate that them charging for a rape kit was a policy forced on them or even recommended by the World Bank in Madagascar.

Posted by: DRR | Dec 2, 2006 8:41:10 PM

Fair enough.

Posted by: Antid Oto | Dec 4, 2006 12:09:30 AM


So your view is that the World Bank does not advocate charging the victim for the rape kit, but does advocate charging her for the medicine? Is that correct?

Since I am not exactly privy to the doings of the World Bank Madagascar team, I obviously cannot prove that they advocated this situation, and more importantly, whether or not they advocated it or conditioned loans or aid on adoption of their policy I cannot show that the government (local or national) adopted the policy as a result of the World Bank.

What I do know is that the World Bank repeatedly advocates and conditions aid on adoption of militantly anti-poor policies in poor countries. We would not tolerate such inhumanity where people are wealthier, but of course it's perfectly fine with us to force those policies on those who are poor to begin with. How exactly is there a meaningful distinction between user fees for healthcare and for law enforcement?

Posted by: Marshall | Dec 4, 2006 8:51:18 AM

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