Sleepless nights for father of girl allegedly abused by French soldier
Ouagadougou (AFP) - Ben Ouedraogo hasn't been able to sleep since the discovery of a video that appears to show a French soldier sexually abusing his fiver-year-old daughter at a swimming pool in Burkina Faso.
"What happened is horrible," the 31-year-old artist tells AFP, on the verge of tears.
"It's like something out of a film... But there's a point when I have to stand up and fight for these children, for my daughter, to keep their honour because it's disgusting, disgusting," he says.
Ouedraogo has been living in torment since Sunday, when a film of his daughter and her three-year-old friend being touched by a French soldier during an afternoon out at a swimming pool was discovered.
Two French soldiers were detained over the incident. One was charged Friday with sexually abusing both of the girls and recording images of a pornographic nature involving a minor, while the second was freed without charge.
The children met them during an afternoon outing to the pool with the mother of the younger girl. The two men were so charming -- one of them particularly good with the kids -- that the mother invited them to her house for coffee.
Ouedraogo recalls meeting the two French special forces troops hours later when he went to pick up his daughter: "These were beefy soldiers, sturdy."
When they left, they forgot their GoPro portable camera, which instead of showing skydiving or fighting, contained images of the two girls being abused, apparently by one of the soldiers.
Ouedraogo has still not seen the tape, which the mother of the other child took to the French embassy.
- 'Taken for idiots' -
The two men were swiftly repatriated to France, which is still reeling from another alleged child sex abuse scandal involving French troops in Central African Republic that only came to light after it was leaked to the British press.
French judicial and military authorities have launched an investigation into the latest claims, as have police in Burkina Faso.
Still, Ouedraogo becomes increasingly agitated as he describes how he was dismissed by the French police officers sent from neighbouring Niger to investigate the allegations.
"Why are they not being judged here? There is a justice system, laws" in Burkina Faso, he says. "That means anyone can do whatever they want if they are a French soldier abroad."
Ouedraogo has hired a lawyer in France who specialises in child abuse cases, and says he hopes for harsh punishments for the two men "so that they never do such a thing again".
He has also lodged a complaint in Burkina Faso against the repatriation of the soldiers.
"Me and my family have been taken for idiots... I thank heaven, God, that my daughter has not realised what is happening."
The one bright spot in the sordid affair, Ouedraogo says, is that his daughter managed to escape without injuries and can still smile, laugh and sing.
Still, "she knows very well that, with all that has happened, the questions she has been asked, something is not normal," he adds.
- Personal Finance - Lifestyle
- Company Legal & Law Matters
- Burkina Faso