From my many visits to Bwaise which happens to be the home of the African Girl initiative-Uganda a project of Man up, I was visiting one family that I have made friends with; together with a friend we decided to buy gifts for the family during the festive season,
I am greeted smiles that are void of warmth, but I am getting used to that because there is always an issue with this family. This family is headed by a single dad, a taxi or matatu driver with four girls, Rukia 9, Shadia13, Halima15 and Sarah 17. Halima is my favorite so we needed to buy a something from the shops. She accompanied me, as we meandered through the slums, she told me that they had had a lot of challenges lately, I had spent over three months without visiting them but I got the shock of my life, at how much water had passed under the bridge during my absence.
“My sister, Shadia,” she opens the dialogue now I am curious to know what could have happened to the beautiful girl. “Well, about a month ago Sarah and I we were away, we had gone somewhere so the two young ones we alone at home. The door pane was broken, a man broke into the house and raped my sister, Rukia ran out and screamed, but there is no one that came to their rescue he screams fell on deaf ears. It was about 8.00pm, there was still noise in the neighborhood probably, nobody noticed that that was a strange cry that had come from this desperate 9 year old.”
A few days later, they took her to the hospital to do some checkups to find out whether she had contracted HIV or any other dangerous STDs, the nurse checked but said that there wasn’t any trace of HIV, however she said that after a month they should go back and carry out confirmatory tests. They went back even before a month had elapsed because Shadia had strange feeling in her body, yet by then they had no money, Halima had to sacrifice her remaining school fees to take her sister to the hospital, the nurse after carrying out tests revealed to them that she was pregnant, that was the last news their dad would take in. They had nothing else to do but to tell him what was going on before it was too late.
He gave them some money to carry out an abortion. A friend of the family recommended them to a place where they would do it effectively and cheaply. They didn’t talk over this again with their dad, it was done. Three days after the abortion, she was still bleeding heavily; they went back to the nurse that had broken the news of the pregnancy. “We went back and the nurse at the first clinic gave us some pain killers and the bleeding ceased. My sister still has purse discharge but she’s improving.”
When I ask about the offender she says “We know him, he is a slum boy but since the incident, he has taken off, and we don’t want to bother with the police because we know that nothing will be done. So why waste our time?”
Our conversation ended abruptly we had arrived home we couldn’t carry on with our conversation, as I observed the young girl she is deeply traumatized. We were taking pictures but she didn’t want to have any of hers taken. She is sad and more wanting to be left alone.
This is just one of the many girls in these slums that are sexually abused and no justice is ever pursued, partly because justice for sexual violence victims is not only is expensive but one must deal with police that still has a long way to go in protecting what is left of these survivors’ dignity. Families keep quiet about such incidents leaving girls to live with trauma.
By Prudence Nyamishana