Mauritius: Story of Helena

Date: October 9, 2019
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I was only 11 years old when I had to stop school. My mother was so poor that I had to help to bring money to the house. I worked in a factory until the age of 18 and helped my family financially. After the factory I started work in a company making model boats.

I stopped work when I met somebody whom I thought I loved. I lived with him for eight years. He started beating me. He stopped me going out. When I told him I was pregnant, the beating was even worse. He took me to see the doctor when I was six months pregnant. He forced me to drink 21 cytotec. (a medication to provoke abortion). I felt so bad at night and was suffering so much that I told my mother. My mother came to my rescue and told me to push so that the baby could come out. I started to push but only the head and the right hand of the baby came out. But my baby was alive for three minutes. The rest of the baby was still inside my womb. I was taken to the ICU late at night. Meanwhile nobody knew where my partner went and where he went to stay. He was nowhere to be found. I gave birth to a boy. I had to leave the region where I lived so that he could not lay hands on me. After some time I came back to stay with my mother. Five months later I was subjected to sexual violence from my brother in law. Nobody believed me when I told them. I finally found somebody who agreed to marry me.

We had a baby boy together. But what I thought would be a happy life turned out to be a nightmare. My husband was a drug user. There was nothing in my house. No food at all. The rent of the house was Rs.1,700 a month and as we could not pay he sold all my personal effects. He dragged me outside the house. I was beaten in the street. I started to make some friends in the streets and they proposed me some kind of work. They told me that there was good money in doing sex work. I refused but told them that I could become a waitress in the place where they work and can even help so that they get more clients but the money must be shared 50/50. They agreed and I stayed in Mont Choisy, a coastal region in the North of Mauritius, four times a week to be able to send money to my mother who was looking after my children.

One day a client thought I was a sex worker but I insisted that I was only the waitress. One night he watched me until I finished work. He took two friends with him and dragged me from the door until we reached the beach. On the beach of Mont Choisy the three of them raped me. It was four o’clock in the morning. I have never known so much fear and so much violence in my life. I have known poverty and I am still living in poverty. I have known rape. I have known violence and still living a life of violence. I have known theft and am still living it but the multiple rapes were the most horrible thing that I went through.

I am still with my husband. He has stopped taking drugs but I do not know the colour of his money as he does not help with finance of the house at all.

I have one sister and one brother who are older than me. They are both happy in their family life. Unfortunately, it is not the same for me. I have been through so much violence, rapes, poverty and all sorts of problems that I know my life will never be like theirs. I would have loved them to know of my existence but they ignore me completely. For them I do not exist. They do not know all the difficulties I am going through. They do not know if I am eating or not. I have a few nieces and nephews. My mother has three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren but nobody has ever contacted me. My mother is the only one who comes and to see me from time to time. I am deeply hurt and bleeding inside.

Fortunately, I have known Gender Links and this is helping me to fight, to become strong.

When I started working in a restaurant I did not know where to start. Now I have become a professional as a waitress and barmaid assistant. Each time when I help in the catering business I envied those women doing the decoration of the place. I was so inspired that when I came back home I invented a few decorations by myself. I finally succeeded in making a few decorations. I have even put a few of my decorations on FaceBook but unfortunately, nobody has contacted me yet.