Life in a shelter

Date: November 22, 2012
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Written by *Grace

The best thing that has happened to me is living in the shelter. I never thought a shelter could give me so much happiness. I am well surrounded by friends. I am learning a lot and being looked after by caring people.

I loved my father to bits but unfortunately, when I turned two my father knew he would have to leave this world. He did not want any harm to happen to me and gave me to a woman he trusted. The woman was so kind and caring that I considered her like the one who gave birth to me. She sent me to school and fended for me for nine years. I never went to school on an empty stomach or without any goodies in my lunch box. I got everything that I needed. But I was doomed the day I met my biological mother.

One day a woman knocked at our door and she told my mother that she has come for me by right being my biological mother. She wanted me to live with her. We were both taken aback and got a shock but unfortunately I had no alternative but to follow her. No need to say how heartbroken I was to leave the house and the person with whom I spent the best years of my life.

It did not take long for me to have a taste of hell in my new environment with a step father and his son. Yes, my mother soon got married when she divorced my father and this is why he wanted me to live with him.

My step father had drinking bouts and with each bout my mother became the target for a good beating. I tried my best to stop this cruelty but in vain.

One day my stepfather decided that his son should have sex with me. I resisted with all my energy and my stepfather said that if I keep on resisting my mother would get a good beating. I refused and struggled but my stepbrother had the upper hand and he raped me. I became dirty and hated my own body. I was only 13 years old.

The only person whom I trusted was my mother and I told her what I went through. She refused to believe me and said I was lying.

This happened a few times. Unfortunately, by then the woman whom I still considered like my mother had passed away. Not knowing where to turn to, I went to see a neighbour. She took pity on me and gave me some money so that I could take a bus to go and see my aunt.

I told my aunt everything including how I was being raped regularly and my mother being beaten. She telephoned the Child Development Unit and the officers did a full enquiry. I was then placed in the shelter.

I am supposed to stay here until I turn 18 but would like to stay forever as I am so happy here. Soon I will be sent to follow a course in hairdressing and I am really looking forward to that. I would like to open my own business.

I have heard that my mother is in prison. I do not even know if I want to see her. To tell you the truth I am starting to have doubts whether she is my biological mother. How can a mother not believe her daughter? How can a mother let her own daughter be raped regularly under her own roof?

*Not her real name.
This story is a personal account and has also been used in War@HomeGender Based Violence Indicators Study Mauritius Country Report by Gender Links.



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