Lesotho: At the point of rape

Date: September 9, 2014
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My name is Ruth. I was abused while I was in my house sleeping, and I felt like it was a dream. It was the 9th March 1996 when this man entered my house, I had thought that he was my husband and did not even care that much when I heard this evil man entering my bed. My husband was drinking a lot and kept late nights. I used to sleep without locking the door because my husband came home very late and he did not want to wait for me to open for him when he returned. As for my husband, he was not abusive other than that he stayed at bars till they closed.
This man opened his trousers’ zip showing he was about to rape me. He had managed to push me down and then he made a mistake by not closing my mouth because I screamed until there was no voice coming out of me. His private parts were in contact with mine; he got scared and left through the back window because my neighbours were already coming to find out what was wrong. Since my neighbours were already at my house they ran after him and caught him. They sent for my husband, who came very late and we followed the people with the culprit to the chief.
The chief ordered that the man should go and sleep at home for he did not have a place for criminals in his house but I was not happy with him, how could he say that a criminal should sleep in his own house. As for me, he wrote a letter for me to go to the police station to report the man who tried to rape me. The criminal was dark in complexion and very young, he looked like a hard core criminal when I looked at him, and his eyes were very scary. I thought that the chief was afraid and that is why he let him go.
In the morning when the police went to look for him at his house he was nowhere to be found, they looked everywhere to no avail. Investigations continued until we heard that the man had gone to South Africa. My husband was very supportive, instead of blaming me for the act he made sure that the police were hunting for this criminal because they needed to catch him. When we were going up and down, he was by my side, even when I had given up he encouraged me so that the man should be found. He did so until his death and this man has not been found even now.
I am very angry with our chief because he did not act like one instead he let the man go free. The fact that he did not do anything to me is the one thing that consoles me. To some extent I thought that the chief conspired with the criminal to let him run away. He was so unreasonable to have let the man to go free. I was expecting much more from the chief, that he would help put the man in prison so that we might have a crime free community. I was disappointed, not for me only, but for the entire community.
I am a very old woman and I took a chance in talking about this because I know that in some communities people still live under the same situations. Many people keep quiet about this same problem even their chiefs still keep this kind of crime quiet and do not work for their people fairly. I am writing this specially for all the women out there who have been through what I have been through and worse. Sometimes the people we trust most are the ones who disappoint us the most, like very important people in the society, for example in my case the chief was an important figure who was supposed to stand for the rights of his people but failed. So even in those cases we should go forward and be strong.
The nation and women at large need to make sure that they stand up for their rights which are just stepped on. The people who are supposed to be our leaders need to be leaders, if not they need to be taken to disciplinary hearings. We need to come together as women to stand against crime and the criminals not leaving aside the people who condone it.

This story is part of the “I” Stories series produced by the Gender Links encouraging the view that speaking out can set you free.




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