‘Certain forms of Violations against one’s body are deeper than others yet one thing remains true, they all hurt’. This was the response I got from Enid as I stood helpless and speechless upon hearing her story.
Enid underwent humiliation and degradation as she was subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM), an ancient practice that has since been outlawed yet is still practiced in secret. The practice is carried out by traditional unskilled ‘experts’. The knives used are unsterilized and no anesthetic is used. Therefore Enid and many other girls who undergo this ritual ‘face the knife’ (as the community puts it) brutally as ‘real women’ (according to the proponents of this culture, labor pains have got nothing on the pain FGM causes, and so a real woman should be able to withstand the pain from FGM).
Shortly after she ‘healed’ or let us say almost healed (3 weeks after the FGM was performed), she had to undergo the final stage of the ritual and that was sleeping with a man who is tasked to determine her libido ratings given the fact that the ritual is performed to reduce a woman’s sexual interest since according to the Sebei culture ‘only men’ have the right to enjoy sex. A fourteen year old is defiled!!!!
A month after, Enid has her menstrual cycles and she can’t afford to go to school because of the cost of soiling her dress as she has no sanitary towels to use and like many girls her age, she decides to stay at home. In all cultures in the country, it is considered vulgar for a woman to say that she is menstruating, so most girls say they’re sick. Anyway, a longtime family friend, who Enid has always called “Uncle”, offers Enid five thousand Uganda shillings (1 and half USD) to buy a soda for herself. Enid buys pads instead and was able to attend class the next day but little did she know that this favor was going to come at a cost, little by little the family friend starts demanding first a hug, then a kiss and finally sex.
Having had more than one encounter but specifically three according to Enid, she got pregnant and it is during antenatal that she discovers that she is HIV/AIDS. She can’t tell who gave her the HIV/AIDS of the persons who defiled her. But she knows with real certainty that her entire life has been destroyed.
She gave birth to an HIV/AIDS free baby and at 15 years of age, she is a mother to a child, and yet she herself is a child. Enid has to provide for her baby, but who will provide for her? She must defend her baby, but who will defend her? Her parents only cared that they received a cow given by the family friend as atonement, because the family would rather maintain the long existent relationship with the family of the abuser than give him up to the authorities who would send him to jail for defilement. Moreover, sending him to jail would yield no material gain to the family in any way, and they certainly wouldn’t have received the one cow they ended up getting.
Enid had to hire herself out to labor in peoples gardens a week after giving birth to get a half a dollar to provide for her baby. The father of her Son does not provide. WAGRAU gave Enid one hundred thousand Uganda Shillings (about 25 US dollars) as seed money for business. Enid now buys tomatoes, onions and other vegetables from the mountains and sells them as a distributor to those who sell food down the mountain. We also took her for counseling and discovered that Enid was not constant and regular with her HIV/AIDS medication intake, and counseled her on the proper care she needed to provide for herself for her health.
There are countless girls like Enid.
WAGRAU is committed to advocating for women and girls like Enid and giving them tools to support themselves.
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