Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Facebook’s #IShallNotForget triggers an avalanche of sexual abuse stories

The ‘Sebina’ defilement incident that has now snowballed into a national campaign against sexual abuse of women and children has seen many victims finally come out to share their ordeals on the Facebook platform ‘Women and Men against all SEXUAL ABUSE OF CHILDREN’. The victims’ accounts indicate the problem is actually bigger than statistics suggest. These are some of their harrowing experiences.

I was staying with my mother who was suffering from mental psychosis; I had no one to take care of me or my mother. We lived next to a female lawyer (right now a magistrate) and her husband. One particular night my mother wasn’t feeling well so she had to be taken to a mental health institution. I was left alone and the lawyer and her husband invited me over to their house. During the third night at their place the woman came into the room I was sleeping in…She fondled my breasts and inserted her fingers inside me…This went on for a year. As a 12 year old who was academically excelling my grades started going down. A teacher at school asked me why I was no longer the cream of the crop at school and I told her about my situation. The matter was taken by the police and social-worker upon which I was mocked and told such things do not happen in this country. A few months down the line the husband to the woman joined every day. It was hell. I would be penetrated by the couple and was reminded that no one would listen to me because I was the daughter of a crazy woman. I lived with the pain and eventually dropped out of school before I was caught by the police and taken back. On that same day I was beaten up and the woman poured car battery acid on my vagina, they went on raping me until just last year when I went to tertiary school.
Please find me justice. I have since lost my clitoris….find me justice.

I started working as a teacher at 25; I was posted to a boarding school. Nothing could have prepared me for what I witnessed. Many young girls in that school were taken there by social workers to protect them from their families where they were raped and their mothers protected the perpetrators. One particular girl caught my attention. She was a beautiful 14 year old student. A sad child she was, never played with others at break or lunch. She had chosen a seat in the corner at the back where she sat quietly never participating in class. One day at break I walked over and sat next to her. I asked her for a share of her bread and I asked her if I could be her friend. I also invited her to join my netball team. She said she had never played netball, I promised I’d teach her. She joined team; I also recruited her into my traditional dance and aerobics club. In two weeks she could smile. She was a fast leaner and in no time she played WD n GD with ease. She was good at traditional dance too. The child began to blossom. I decided not to ask. I decided if she doesn’t tell me I won’t ask. A month later I approached the School Head and Matron and asked them to let her live with me. They agreed, she moved from the hostel into my potter camp. Since it was very small, we slept together. That’s when I learnt of the nightmares. Every night I held her as she whimpered in fear. Sometimes I too cried. It wasn’t after a month that she opened up. She told me a horrid story of a father who started raping her at 12. Of a family that beat her up whenever she told them; of how her mother chased her away. She ended up living with her Granny but was still unsafe because the paedophile still came and raped her at her Granny’s place. The child told of how defenceless she felt. How afraid she was. She talked of the many suicide thoughts she’d had. She cried as she told it all. She told of how everybody relocated to Masimo for the ploughing season and how her father would return to feast on her.
One day she got the courage to refuse. Instead of raping her, her father took ropes, spread her legs and tied her up. He then started pinching her private parts. He pinched her until she was wounded and bleeding, there after untied her and returned to Masimo. The wounds forced the child to seek medical assistance. She told the nurses what happened and they informed the social workers. The child was thus taken away for protection.To protect the child I had to arrange for temporary adoption with social workers so that on holidays I take her home with me. The family had disowned her because her monster was arrested. To date her mother hates her.

When I was in senior school my matron hated me because I tried exposing a male teacher who had made the habit of sleeping with a Form 3 student every year. That year I was the chosen student. I resisted his advances and reported to the matron. The woman told me in her words ‘who do you think you are that a teacher would want to f*** you’ and   many more degrading words.With the help of my male class mates who caught him in the act fondling my breasts after ordering me to remain behind following a geography lesson. He was then removed from the school and now I hear he is a teacher at another school continuing with the abuse.
I just need the courage to stand up now and name all the men who abused young girls during my time as a teenager.  I know my friends will be happy I talked. Government should stop transferring abusive teachers and allowing them to continue terrorising teachers.

Growing up being the black sheep of the family only because you reported an attempted rape is not easy. Being told you are the reason for a failed marriage because you talk too much. Everyone dismissing you because you are a minor and you don’t know where to go or what to do. Every time you see a man your heart pounds. That moment replays in your head. Some end up being lesbian by choice because the sight of a man pisses them off. Yes it’s painful. I know. It has happened to me. I am ready to face a bunch of elders from my family being blamed for dragging their name in the mud as they always say but I SHALL NOT FORGET….

Abuse is very real in our country and it happens behind closed doors, perpetrated by people we know and trust. Men who are supposed to protect us are the very same that use us. I was raped when I was just doing Form 2 by teacher. One day he somehow managed to lure me to his house. I remember the ordeal as if it were yesterday. I remember choosing to keep quiet about it for fear of being ridiculed. It affected me badly as I lost tremendous weight and my marks dropped. I remember writing a composition about my ordeal but making sure that it does not show that it was me. The reaction that I got from my teachers at the time made me glad they did not know it was me. The man would come and stand by the classroom door I was supervising during study time and just grin. This would eat me up but never found the courage to tell anybody.

I knew it would break my mom and to this day I have never found the courage to tell her. Only recently did I tell my siblings about it also mentioning that last year I was raped by a man I had once called my boyfriend.  He was extremely abusive both physically and emotionally .I had finally found the strength to leave the abuse but he would still harass me whenever he saw me at shopping malls. On that fateful day he forced me to get into his car and drove home. Upon arrival he wanted us to engage in sexual inter course and when I refused he forced himself on me. At some point after that I managed to find strength to report him for hitting me on a different occasion. But my heart sank with disappointment when they just called him in for questioning and made no arrest. We were then given a date to go have our case listened to at the kgotla. That helped a bit as he no longer harassed me when he saw me. The pain I have been through is unmeasurable and although I have never thought of suicide I have days where I just want to sit in a dark room.


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