Masha Allen, who was adopted in 1998 in Russia, fell victim to her American rapist stepfather. Masha exposed all the details of her stay in America, which she hoped would become her second homeland, in written testimonies before the Energy and Trade Committee of the American Congress. Furthermore, a special site for the girl has been created on the Internet, whose real name is Maria Ysenikova.
Passions come to the boil over the problem of the adoption of Russian children by foreign citizens. Russian children who are taken abroad often end up in appalling conditions. Cases are known where adoptive parents have mistreated their children or even killed them. In January of this year it was announced that in the USA a couple has been convicted of abusing two adopted children from Russia.
The trial of Teresa and Reed Hansen lasted three years and it was established that the parents would punish their adopted children from Russia, leaving them without food, would beat them with wooden sticks and made them sleep in the bath without blankets or pyjamas. A court in the American state of Utah gave the couple a suspended sentence and made them pay $35 thousand to the children for the abuse. At the moment the children (brother and sister) are living with another family. Last year the most high profile trial of a Russian child’s murder was the case of Irma Pavlis. In May 2005 a court in Chicago sentenced her to 12 years in prison.
The fate of Masha Allen, who plucked up the courage to testify in Congress against her stepfather, appalls you with its sequence of tragic events. At the age of three she was put in a children’s home after her mother tried to kill her. Two years later in 1998 it seemed as if fate was smiling on the little girl: the American millionaire Matthew Mancuso decided to adopt her. Her new stepfather drove the 5-year old child to his estate in the suburbs of Pittsburgh (in the state of Pennsylvania) and in this vehicle her childhood ended before it had even had time to begin. The next five years became a never-ending nightmare. The American dad raped the young girl almost every day, recorded the whole process on film and distributed photographs of his own debaucheries over the Internet. The girl grew, but so that Masha looked younger than her age and remained thin, the millionaire simply starved her.
The pervert stepfather was only apprehended in 2003. On 11th August 2005 he was found guilty of raping an under-age girl, incest and unlawfully confining a child in order to degrade her. On 17th November the court of the 5th District of Pennsylvania sentenced Mancuso to 35 years imprisonment. After this Masha was adopted by a young single woman, but the young girl decided to tell everyone her story in order to help other victims of sexual violence. Speaking before Congressmen, Masha asked them for help, appealing for them “to do something about the Internet”. “Matthew placed photographs of me on the Internet, so my humiliation is still carrying on,” said the girl. At the same time she does not want Americans to be banned from adopting Russian children.
But the Internet has not only caused her harm; it is also a panacea. The whole of Masha’s short but bitter biography can be found on the world-wide web on her own site. As the young girl herself says, “Matthew found an adoption agency on the Internet. This agency gave him photographs of me from Russia over the Internet, even though they did not even know anything about him. After Matthew received me, he placed photographs of me on the Internet – people are still downloading them even though he has now been in prison for two years”.
Now in the USA a draft bill has been developed, more widely known as “Masha’s Law”, which calls for harsh punishments for people who download child pornography off the Internet. The bill also recognizes the right for victims of violence to file lawsuits over breach of copyright when photographs of them are distributed. According to certain estimates, there are approximately three million images of child pornography on the Internet.
It is worth noting that many Russian families would also like adopt an orphan, but cannot, because foreign firms specializing in exporting children exploit the shortcomings in Russian legislation and sometimes even circumvent them, literally exporting orphans in a stream out of Russia. In our country people are also concerned by the abuse and murders of Russian children who have been adopted by Americans. This is proven by press reports and the results of sociological surveys. Politicians and lawyers are talking about it. In particular, according to the deputy General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation Sergey Fridinsky, “American citizens adopt 62 percent of the total number of children adopted by foreigners, which means almost 5 thousand children a year. This is a very large number. Nevertheless, 14 cases of the murder of Russian children have been recorded, not counting other crimes, and this causes a great deal of concern”.
A year ago, in connection with the more frequent cases of violence against Russian children adopted by foreigners, the General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation Vladimir Ustinov sent a recommendation to the Russian government over the need to sign an international treaty with states whose citizens adopt Russian children, and to establish a way of controlling the conditions in which they are living. The accreditation of a whole series of representatives from international adoption agencies in Russia was terminated through a decision by the General Prosecutor’s Office.
At that time, through an order from the Russian Minister of Education Andrey Fursenko, an Interdepartmental Commission was created “to ensure that the interested federal bodies of the administrative branch work consensually to realize state policy in organizing families to take care of children who have been left without the care of their parents, and in effectively defending their rights and legal interests”. This commission refused to extend permission for working in Russia to representatives of three American companies, dealing with the adoption of Russian children by American citizens.
Translated by James Platt