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Today I watched, from my vantage point in a car, as a young girl, pretty as a blooming flower walked on her way from here to there..

She could be nothing more than 13 yrs of age or maybe 14 yrs or even 15 yrs. I wondered where she was coming from and where she was going to… From a visit home or from after school classes to a friend? Maybe from after school classes to the market for groceries that would make dinner… I looked on and thought what a pretty little doll she was.

As I watched I noticed she suddenly got tense, wary and turned away from her original path. Why? I wondered. What could cause this? As she took a walk around a heap of sand, she put some distance between herself and another.

He was young. Not so young. Maybe 16yrs or 17 yrs or maybe even 18 yrs. Cigarette in hand, strutting like a cock on display, he passed and as he walked on, he turned in the direction of the pretty flower. A look up, a look down, a puff of the cigarette and another look up and down. That was all it too and he had done what most do some without even realising it. He had stolen something from someone. 

He had stolen from that little girl. He had stolen her walk, her joy, her innocence, her naivete, her reality, her clothes, her head wrap. He had taken, with his eyes what was not his to take.

How long before one day he follows her, how long before one day he calls out and because she ignores him, he feels slighted and vows revenge. How long before he takes off her clothes in real life, the way he did in his mind while puffing away on that cigarette?

How long before a 13yr old girl grows up in a harsh, violent awakening to the world?

Where are the uncles, brothers, friends, protectors who should be watching?

What mercy is there for that beautiful 13 yr old, strolling along in oblivious abandon. What prayer is there that she will be fine in this world full of watchers. In this world full of men.