MY BODY IS NOT A BATTLEFIELD! STOP SEXUAL VIOLENCE

By Constance Ndeleko

It is not your normal day event that you attend but this is one that flows in with hard, painful and torturous memories that are still disturbing to date. It is during the International Day for Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, marked every 19th of June and today we converge in Nairobi to commemorate victims and raise awareness of the need to put an end to conflict –related sexual violence, to honor victims and survivors of sexual violence around the world and also to pay tribute to all who have courageously devoted their lives to and lost in standing up for the eradication of these crimes.

It is the 10th birthday for the children born from rape which in this case occurred during the post-election violence in 2007/2008 in Kenya. It is wonderful to celebrate life every time but for this kid when each birthday clocks it is a constant reminder to their parents of the horrendous, shameful, agonizing and inhumane act that they endured.

They were born out of unwanted, unexpected pregnancies which were unplanned for and this makes it even hard for the children to live a normal life. We applaud these mothers for giving these young souls a chance to live as we know it has not been an easy journey for them and we thank you big time.

For the 10 years what they have been doing is endure hard and painful love from family and society as they have been on the receiving side of torturous, victimization, stigmatization, rejection even from friends and the community at large

It is sad that they have not been able to share and have the normal life as other children in the society as some, have been abandoned and left in the streets, left when their mothers felt that they couldn’t take it anymore, they could not raise the child due to the lingering dark memories they hold to, the pain they stomach when they see the child.

I wonder how these perpetrators live with all these immoral, unspeakable and insane actions. Are they even human? Doesn’t their guilt conscious kill them inside or are they made of stone? This really angers and infuriates. It burdens me that these criminals are still walking free as if what they did is an order of the day.

However according to the reports given by (KNCHR)it has documented at least 86 of sexual violence in Nairobi during post-election violence 2017,Human Rights Watch has documented 37 cases of women and girls who got pregnant from PEV-related rape and71 cases of widespread violence August to October 2017 ,(TJRC) documented 2,646 women and 346 men who suffered sexual violence on historical injustices and human rights violations that happened between 1963 and 2008 more so, during security operations by military ,political ,resources and ethnic –based  conflict and in all this let’s not forget children are still involved here.

I did interact directly with some the victims and the stories they shared were sad and very sensitive.’ I was ganged raped by three men, two spread my legs a part, one went up on top of me and took advantage of me one after the other while I screamed for help, but no one was there to help. I screamed and cried until there were no tears left, they repeated the act severally and I was just there paralyzed, scared and sweating all over due to the pain and blood that was oozing out of me. Instantly I knew I was meeting my creator. I don’t know if I should say thank you Lord for a second chance to live or I was meant to live in regrets full of burdens and never ending misery on this cup full of despondency.

After finding my way out running to know where because everywhere was chaotic I rested near some homes totally confused not knowing what will become of my life. Life was never the same for me. I wanted to report the matter to the police but vividly this was not going to work for me since the men in uniform were the ones in my home previously. I had nowhere to turn to, no one to talk to I was caught in the middle, everything was disoriented and the society confused and shaken as I was.

This was a brutal, regretful moments that I just wish the memories could be erased from my mind completely and at least have a fresh start somewhere else. It is embarrassing to even walk in the society where people tend to label you names and brand you unpleasing titles.

Yes, I found out I was pregnant at the age of 17 and also an orphan who couldn’t take care of herself, no one to talk to, no home to go to, no property to cling onto as a fortune. Everything was burnt down no memories left but a life time scar that will never be erased.

It hit me hard, I was only a teenager bring another child in this cruel world, filled yet with merciless individual, where justice has not prevailed since. I tried to commit suicide, abort but all was in vain and finally I conceived my little beautiful angel whom I had no idea of how to raise her. It is by His Grace we are both alive. I have tried all means to end the life of this beautiful innocent soul, cutting her body with razors leaving permanent scars in her that she will live to remember, tried to leave her on the street but it all dwelled on me she is my little savior who took the role of the parent to ensure that I also didn’t end up my life. She is only 10 now but she gives me a reason to live for tomorrow.

I turned to all corners possible to get help but all was in vain. Still in shockwaves loss of words on how the government can compensate those who lost land and yet we’re here still languishing and living a disparaging life of difficulties and hard time. Does it mean their problems were bigger than ours Kenyan Government? Why prioritize them and not us? Are we not all Kenyans? Are the lands compensated more import or of valuable than us? Why are you forgetting we still hold the future with the little ones?  We want help, take action to warrant us a better life than the one we have been living in the last 10 years.

The outcome of sexual violence is never light and it will never be easy on the victims as they tend to suffer from post-traumatic stress, depression, contacting diseases like STI/STD’S, HIV and AIDS, severe physical injuries, life-long disabilities, health complications like traumatic fistula, ruptured uterus, sexual dysfunction and infertility, mental health conditions.

The aftermath is that these children end up suffering under the previous marriages where they are deserted, mistreated, physically abused, rejected by family or the husbands to the mother, drop out of school due to lack of school fees as well as they are unable to restore their livelihood, education and their dignity.

Children born out of rape and their parents receive psychological challenges including stigma and rejection from their families and communities, Majority of these children and mothers have not received counselling or any psychological support, denied birth certificate due inability of the mother to identify their biological fathers, procured unsafe abortions.

However, with the compilation of different reports from civil society they did highlight some recommendations on sexual violence: providing reparation to victims of sexual violence and other forms of gross violations, adopting policy on how to right these wrongs, Public acknowledgement and apology from government for the acts committed better health care for the victims, Therapy and counselling sessions, Establishment of office of rapporteur on sexual violence, investigation and prosecutions should be fully implemented and resolved.

We need to help them to get the adequate help and assistance they need. Our bodies are not battle fields if you are a true man go fight other men on ground. Stop Sexual Violence

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