Zimbabwe: Abused and abandoned by the family

Date: October 10, 2019
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l have vivid memories of how I was indecently abused by my distant uncle when I was aged seven. I had been left in my uncle’s care when my parents went to work in the maize fields. My uncle was seated on a stool with a bundle of sweet cane by his side. He called me to sit with him and he peeled the sweet canes for me. He started telling me some folk stories and finally took me to sit on his lap. He continued telling me funny stories whilst I was eating sweet canes.

Uncle then inserted his middle finger into my private parts, I wanted to cry and run to where my parents were because it was painful. My uncle tickled my armpits and persuaded me to stay. He gave me some ripe mangoes he had quickly fetched from the orchard. He knew that I liked mangoes very much. He lied and convinced me that it would be an interesting game if he inserted his forefinger into my private parts whilst I would be eating mangoes. He convinced me that he had made a mistake of inserting his middle finger instead of his forefinger. Young as I was, I foolishly agreed thinking that he was being sincere.

Uncle inserted both his middle and forefinger into my private parts. I felt a piercing pain and suddenly screamed. He lifted me up and screamed at me that I shut up. He threatened me that if I ever told anyone or cried again he would cut off my head. He showed a sharp knife which he had taken out of his jacket breast pocket. He gave me more mangoes and sweet canes. He put me down under a mango tree and told me to relax or even sleep. He returned to his stool and watched me eating the fruits whilst sobbing with tears and mucus running down my face. I did not know how and when I finally slept.

I was awakened by my mother with my father seated on the stool where uncle was previously seated on. My mother saw the fear and sorrow clearly written all over my face and asked what the problem was. I immediately started crying. When my father called me to where he was I struggled to walk the short distance between us because of the sharp pain coming from my privates. My mother quickly picked me up and when my parents found out what had happened to me they immediately reported at the nearby police base. I did not hesitate to tell my parents that uncle had indecently abused me. I was taken to hospital for medical examination and the authorities confirmed that some penetration had actually taken place. Uncle was arrested and he was sent to prison.

My father died whilst uncle was still in prison. My mother was forced to remarry my father’s brother, Farai*. When my mother refused to remarry Farai* she was sent away to her parents’ place. She was ordered by Farai* to leave me behind. I wept bitterly but it was of no use for Farai* is a man of his words.

I was taken into the custody of Farai* and Elina*, his wife who were very abusive. The couple had three children and stayed at their compound which had only two huts. Farai* and Elina*’s eldest child, Tendai* is four years older than me. One hut was used as a kitchen and we slept in it with Tendai* and Lisa*, my cousin sister. Tendai*’s friend, Edmore, used to come and sleep over sharing the same room with us. Tendai* and Edmore would use one side of the hut whilst we occupied the opposite side. Farai* and Elina* used the other hut as their bedroom.

I would fetch firewood, water for domestic use, cook for the whole family, wash for the entire family as well as clean the two huts and the compound all by myself. Lisa* was not allowed to assist me in doing any of the daily duties. I dropped off from school because I was always sent back home for school fees. Farai* and Elina* stated that if I wanted school fees I had to go and beg for it from my late father’s grave. They also said that I had to repay their “kindness” of having me in their family by doing all the work at home.

As I turned sixteen, Farai* was always asking if I had no one who had proposed to have my hand in marriage. He said that I was a burden hence he needed to marry me off. Whenever I asked where my mother had gone to, he would be very angry and repeatedly told me that that was the last thing he wanted to hear from me. He always labelled my mother as a witch who killed my father and as a woman of loose morals.

Tendai* always returned home after we had all gone to bed. On this particular day he was with Edmore and they came back a bit early whilst I was still awake. When they entered into our kitchen-bedroom hut Tendai* instructed Edmore to go and wait for him outside for he wanted to discuss something important with me. Once Edmore had gone outside, Tendai* came and sat next to me. I did not imagine him having any devilish plans on his mind. He blew out the paraffin lamp and acted as if he had done it accidentally. Whilst we were both looking for the box of matches Tendai* grabbed me by my shoulders and pinned me down.

He whispered into my ear that if I ever wanted to scream he would stab me and I knew that he always had a knife with him. Within no time at all he was busy raping me. He then insultingly asked me how nice it was and I did not answer him as I was crying. Tendai* called Edmore telling him that it was his turn to “feel my sweetness”. I was nearly choked with the anger that was building within my chest. Tendai* went to wait outside whilst Edmore came into the hut. I don’t know where I gathered the strength from as I managed to push Edmore away. He did not expect that and he fell onto the floor I bolted out of the room. The two wicked friends ran after me but could not catch up with me.

I ran towards the village headman homestead which was not far away. As I entered his compound I started crying out loudly. The headman and his wife came out to meet me and the two boys had either lost me or had returned for the headman tried to look for them without any success. I narrated my ordeal in between sobs. He gave me a place to sleep for the night. Early the next morning the headman summoned Farai*, Elina*, Tendai* and Edmore together with some village elders. My uncle was the first to be questioned if he was aware of what had taken place. During his interrogation Tendai* and Edmore were put in separate rooms and did not know what was being asked. Farai* defended Tendai* by accusing me of having wayward behaviour and was in the habit of sleeping around even with married men. When it was Farai*’s turn he accused Edmore of raping me and the two friends nearly exchanged blows after trading insults to each other.

The elders all agreed to have the matter dealt with by the police. Farai* was then begging them to have it dealt with at village level and not to involve the police. I was taken for medical examination and the authorities confirmed that penetration had indeed taken place. Tendai* and Edmore were arrested. Farai* and Elina* threatened to deal with me once I

returned home for having their son arrested. I was then taken in by Msasa Shelter and am still waiting for the court date