The recent case of Jaycee Lee Dugard, who was kidnapped at age 11 and held prisoner for 18 years and forced to bear two daughters by her kidnappers, bears a striking simularity to another case in Austria, but that one was far worse because it involved incest, lasted longer and involved the birth of seven children.
Cellar Incest Case Shocks Austria
For almost a quarter of century, as life unfolded in the quiet Lower Austrian town of Amstetten, Elisabeth Fritzl was enduring an unimaginable ordeal behind the plain gray walls of a nondescript house there.
Her 73-year-old father, Josef, today confessed that he held his now 42-year-old daughter captive for 24 years in a concealed, windowless basement hideout, where he repeatedly had sexual intercourse with her and where she gave birth to seven of his children. The shocking case has reminded many Austrians of the fate of Natascha Kampusch, who was kidnapped at the age of 10 and kept in a narrow basement for eight years until she managed to flee in August 2006. But the senior investigator in Amstetten, Franz Polzer, said that the cruel deliberateness of Josef Fritzl’s deed outstripped the Kampusch case “by far.” Though cases of such longstanding hidden crimes have cropped up elsewhere in recent years, the revelation of two in less than two years has set about a round of public soul-searching in Austria.
The police became aware of the family after Elisabeth’s critically ill and confused 19-year-old daughter, Kerstin, was admitted to the local hospital. Kerstin, together with her brothers Stefan, now 18, and Felix, 5, had shared their mother’s miserable life in the basement and had never seen the daylight. The hospital’s urgent request for medical information from Kerstin’s family triggered an anonymous tip, and Josef and Elisabeth were seized by police.
Having been promised protection from her tormentor, Elizabeth Fritzl told the investigators her nightmarish story. She says she was 11 years old when her father raped her for the first time. But it was only after she had turned 18 that, according to colleagues, she disappeared from her job at a highway rest stop and never returned. A former colleague told the Austrian Kurier newspaper that the parents showed up at their daughter’s former workplace a few days later appearing very worried.
Another child born in the basement died shortly after its birth due to lack of medical care. The other three, Lisa (15), Monica (14) and Alexander (12) lived in the house, attended the local school, and appeared to be normal. Josef allegedly told his wife that their daughter had run away to join a cult and had left the babies on the doorstep of the house. He produced a letter allegedly from her, which was quoted in the Austrian press: “Don’t try to find me, it would be pointless and would increase my suffering and the suffering of my children. Also too much education and too many children are unwanted there.”
Polzer said Elisabeth looked very pale and thin and “much older than she actually is.” Kerstin is described as being in stable but serious condition, while Elisabeth and the other two children who lived with her are under the care and observation of psychologists.
Josef Fritzl appears to have meticulously carried out his deed while acting like a caring father. The former electrical engineer carefully prepared what would be his daughter’s and her three children’s prison. The basement consisted of four windowless rooms and was equipped with a shower and a toilet, as well as a television. The electronically secured door to the prison could be opened only by entering a code number, which was known only by Fritzl. His wife, who insists that she had no idea what was going on in the house, was never allowed to set foot in the basement.
The neighbors, none of whom noticed anything unusual, are now asking lots of questions. “I was railing against the neighbors in the Kampusch case,” a businessman who lives across the street told the Kurier. “Now I am in the same situation.” So, perhaps, is all of Austria. “It won’t be possible after this case to just go back to the usual course of things,” wrote the Vienna daily Der Standard in an editorial today. “A whole country has to ask itself what it was that has gone so fundamentally wrong.”
The kidnapping of Jaycee Lee Dugard took place on June 10, 1991. Dugard was abducted from a school bus stop within sight of her home in South Lake Tahoe, California. She was 11 at the time of her abduction, and was missing for over 18 years. On August 26, 2009, Dugard appeared in the office of her alleged kidnapper’s parole officer in California, and her identity was confirmed the following day.
Phillip Craig Garrido, 58, and his wife Nancy Garrido, 54, of Antioch, California were arrested for kidnapping and other charges; they are being held in jail awaiting trial. Law enforcement officers believe Dugard was kept in a concealed area behind Garrido’s house in Antioch, California for 18 years. During this time Dugard bore two daughters who were aged 15 and 11 at the time of her reappearance.
The Garridos’ home on Walnut Avenue is in an unincorporated area in northeast Antioch. A neighbor of the Garridos has stated that he recalls as a child meeting Dugard through a fence in the Garrido’s yard soon after the kidnapping. He says that when he asked her if she lived there or was just visiting, she answered that she lived there. At that point Philip Garrido came out and took her back indoors. The Garridos later built a privacy fence around the property, which already had several large trees in the yard. Phillip Garrido was found to have violated his parole and was returned to federal prison from April to August 1993.
Dugard bore two daughters. The first, born in 1994, was named Angel and the second, born in 1998, was named Starlite. During the rest of their time together as a family, Dugard presented herself to everyone, as the daughter of the Garridos and as an older sister to the two younger girls.
Garrido operated a print shop. In the few years before his arrest he began to talk more about religion, though he had been described by others as quiet, mild mannered, intelligent and mature. Dugard acted as the graphics artist for the print shop. Ben Daughdrill, a customer of Garrido’s printing business, claimed he had met and spoken by telephone with Dugard and that Dugard did excellent art work. During this time, Dugard had access to the business phone and had an email account. One customer of the printing business indicated she never hinted to him about her childhood abduction or true identity. Her two daughters told others she was their older sister.
While in Antioch, Garrido also kept an Internet blog associated with what he called “Gods Desire Church.” In the blog Garrido said he had the power to control sound with his mind:
“I Phillip Garrido have clearly demonstrated the ability to control sound with my mind and have developed a device for others to witness this phenomena” […] “I have produced a set of voices by effectively controlling the sound to pronounce words through my own mental powers.” 
Garrido asked several people, including customers, to sign testimonials confirming they had witnessed his ability to “control sound with my mind” and a device he developed “for others to witness this phenomena.”
Law enforcement officers believe that at the time they became involved in 2009, Dugard’s living quarters were in a secondary backyard behind Phillip Garrido’s house. The private area of the yard included sheds (one of which was soundproofed and used as a recording studio in which Garrido recorded himself singing religious-themed and romantic country songs), two tents, and what has been described as a camping-style shower and toilet. The area was surrounded by tall trees and a 6-foot (1.8 m) high fence. An entrance to the secondary backyard was covered by a tarpaulin. Privacy in the yard was enhanced by tents and outbuildings, as well as an old car similar to the one used in the abduction. Law enforcement officers visited the residence at least twice in recent years, but did not give the backyard more than a quick inspection. When police investigated, they found the backyard to be crowded with typical childhood possessions, including books and toys, amongst the tents and sheds. Electricity was supplied by extension cords. Jaycee Dugard was seen in the house and sometimes answered the front door. While the family kept to themselves, the girls were sometimes seen playing in the backyard or as passengers in Garrido’s car. Garrido claims to have home-schooled the two girls.
Both Jaycee’s aunt, Tina Dugard, and former neighbor in Antioch, Cheyvonne Molino, have made public statements that in their opinion, despite the unlawful behavior of Phillip Garrido, there is no manner in the upbringing of Jaycee’s children to suggest in any way that the children are deprived, or significantly deficient in ways that cannot be addressed promptly and efficaciously through typical remedial education. Molino asserted that she had been able to see them occasionally over many years and that they dressed normally, that their behavior away from and with their father was quite social and relaxed, and that during that extended time they appeared to be thriving. 
It seems clear that both Josef Fritzl and Phillip Craig Garrido regarded girls and women as breeding machines for men to use as they saw fit. And they are not alone:
Yemeni girl, 12, dies in painful childbirth
AMMAN, Jordan (CNN) — A 12-year-old Yemeni girl, who was forced into marriage, died during a painful childbirth that also killed her baby, a children’s rights group said Monday.
Fawziya Ammodi struggled for three days in labor, before dying of severe bleeding at a hospital on Friday, said the Seyaj Organization for the Protection of Children.
“Although the cause of her death was lack of medical care, the real case was the lack of education in Yemen and the fact that child marriages keep happening,” said Seyaj President Ahmed al-Qureshi.
Born into an impoverished family in Hodeidah, Fawziya was forced to drop out of school and married off to a 24-year-old man last year, al-Qureshi said.
Child brides are commonplace in Yemen, especially in the Red Sea Coast where tribal customs hold sway. Hodeidah is the fourth largest city in Yemen and an important port.
More than half of all young Yemeni girls are married off before the age of 18 — many times to older men, some with more than one wife, a study by Sanaa University found.
While it was not immediately known why Fawziya’s parents married her off, the reasons vary. Sometimes, financially-strapped parents offer up their daughters for hefty dowries.
Marriage means the girls are no longer a financial or moral burden to their parents. And often, parents will extract a promise from the husband to wait until the girl is older to consummate the marriage.
Children’s organization UNICEF issued a statement Monday saying: “Child marriages violate the rights of children in the most deplorable way. The younger the girl is when she becomes pregnant, the greater the health risks for her and her baby.
“Girls who give birth before the age of 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their 20s. Child marriage denies girls of their childhood, deprives them of an education and robs them of their innocence.”
“More must be done to address the underlying causes in order to prevent tragic deaths like those of 12-year-old Fawziya and her baby,” the statement added.
The issue of Yemeni child brides came to the forefront in 2008 with 10-year-old Nujood Ali.
She was pulled out of school and married to a man who beat and raped her within weeks of the ceremony.
To escape, Nujood hailed a taxi — the first time in her life — to get across town to the central courthouse where she sat on a bench and demanded to see a judge.
After a well-publicized trial, she was granted a divorce.
The Yemeni parliament tried in February to pass a law, setting the minimum marriage age at 17. But the measure has not reached the president because many parliamentarians argued it violates sharia, or Islamic law, which does not stipulate a minimum age.
The only significant difference between that case in Yemen and the first two is that in Yemen it is perfectly legal to imprison and force girls to bear babies for older men, because local religion and culture allows for it. But it is no less horrible. We must protest against ALL such cases, WITHOUT EXCEPTION!
Here’s another example:
Islam actually forbids incest, as stated in the Quran. The father depicted in this story is not only perverted sexually, but theologically too!
But I would argue that from a secular point of view, there is not much difference between marrying and impregnating your young daughter and marrying and impregnating someone else’s young daughter. Yet Islam allows the latter because of the Prophet Muhammad marrying a nine year old girl!
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