Lesotho: The father of my children raped me

Date: September 9, 2014
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I am a young Mosotho lady aged 28, and a mother of three children. My name is Thoko. I have had a rough life for the past ten years. I live on the outskirts of the town. I met this young guy, cute and cool, and we connected instantly. Life was good; we were in love with each other so much so that all my friends looked at me with envy and jealousy. Then one Sunday evening, I was sent to the shop by my brother to buy paraffin. I met my boyfriend on the way to the shop and he was furiously demanding why I was out that late. I tried to explain but he did not want to listen to me.
We went to the shop together, but on the way he would stalk me and verbally accuse me of nasty behaviour that he thought I was guilty of, claiming that he does not approve of girls walking out at night, in the dark. I bought the paraffin and he volunteered to accompany me to make sure that I got home safely, and because he believed that I was intending to meet with some other guy. Then on the way, he stopped, guided me to a nearby tree, in the darkness. He started kissing and fondling me. I was so afraid, shaking; things happened, and the next thing I knew, I had missed my period. I was pregnant. The baby was born, but there was no talk of marriage. My boyfriend told me that he was young, and that his family was poor. Indeed, the family was poor, and I also did not want to go and live with them. We used to occasionally meet and we were cool about it.
It so happened that my brother had to leave home and move to town so that he would be closer to his workplace, while I was left at home alone. I made a stupid mistake then, letting my boyfriend come and visit me in the evening. At the beginning, he would stay for a few hours and then leave. But one night, he refused to go, insisting on sleeping over. I did not want him to, so he became violent and threatened to beat me. Our fighting and arguing ended up in unprotected sex. This happened repeatedly on several occasions. He would start an argument, let it turn into a fight, and then he would force himself on me. I fell pregnant again. When I told him, he backed off. My second child was born and I was on my own.
Things changed between my brother and me; our relationship suffered terrible strain and turned out really ugly, and he finally kicked me out of the house. I took my children with me and went to stay at my grandmother’s place. I stayed there with her for a whole year, until she started to complain about everything I used in her house. I had to beg my brother to take me back, and he did. I had promised him that I would never see my boyfriend again. While at home, things were hectic. I could not walk freely in the village because he would stalk me, insult me publicly, and no one seemed to come to my rescue. Therefore, that gave him complete impunity for his actions. There was nothing I could do.
Then one night he knocked at my door. I refused to open for him, so he kicked the door to no avail, which finally led him to breaking the back window and getting inside. He raped me in front of my other daughter (who was 4 years old then). In the morning, I reported the matter to the chief, and the elders (chief`s council) told me that my boyfriend had the right to visit me because I already had two children with him. I was so confused that I did not have the courage and strength to report the abuse to the police.
Some weeks after the incident, he came back at night. This time, I opened up and tried to talk to him. But he was drunk and did not want to listen to me. He ended up threatening me with a knife, saying he would kill me if I did not give in to his demands. He repeatedly raped me that night and left in the morning. I told him that I was going to report him to the police, but he seemed not to care at all. Later I heard that he had fled the village and was nowhere to be seen. He disappeared for some months, but out of the blue he was back at my house one night. He tried to break in, shooting the lock of our door with a seemingly stolen gun. He managed to get inside and raped me.
The next morning, I went straight to the police station and reported him. He was arrested for only two days and then I heard rumours that he had escaped and was somewhere in South Africa. He has not shown up, but he keeps calling me, threatening that he will come back one day to kill me and the kids. I am a confused, troubled woman, who is constantly afraid of what will happen next.

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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