• April 19, 2024
  • Last Update April 19, 2024 7:23 AM
  • Nairobi

Sexual Gender Based Violence survivor opens up on ordeal in hands of step father

Feature

By Peter Ochieng

Joyna Achieng, (not her real name), a resident of Kisumu has gone through the bad and the ugly as far as Sexual Gender based Violence (SGBV) is concerned.


“My journey has not been a bed of roses,” she says, her mind probably rolling years back.

As a 10-year-old girl, her mother got married to a man they lived happily for some months. However, drama started unfolding when her mum conceived their first baby.

“When I was around ten years old, my mum got married to a guy with whom they lived happily until she conceived their first baby. That is when all the drama began. I don’t know whether my dad used to feel like you can’t sleep with a pregnant woman, but that was when I had the first guest in my room. I was defiled but I couldn’t really speak out because I didn’t really know how to,” the 20-year-old said during an interview.


She said she was not willing to open up because she was not ready to see her mum suffer more pain in the marriage.

But still, keeping to herself only made matters worse. “But being quiet only gave my step dad a go-ahead to continue doing what he was doing to me,” she recalled.

Before she could summon any courage to inform her mum of what was happening, her step uncle came to stay with them in the same house and also started defiling her.

“Then, his brother came to live with us and he would do exactly what his brother used to do to me. So now I was this little girl who was satisfying two grown up men and it was very devastating because I really couldn’t talk to anyone,” said Joyna.
She decided to open up when she reached a point of ‘I can’t take it anymore.’

“This went on for a few months, until I decided to tell my mum what was going on. So, when I told my mum, my mum was scared at first, like what is she going to do? She decided to take me to my step paternal grandmother’s house, just a block away from where my mum was living. You only had to climb the wall and get there.”

“My grandma used to go to work in the morning and come back in the evening, so it used to happen during holidays. My step uncle used to come to my grandma’s house then he would defile me. That is when I started practicing self-harm. I used to have razors and scalpels and sharp objects that could really give me scars and make me feel some physical pain.”

One day, she decided to defend herself against the perpetrator.

“There is this day that he came in. And when he was trying to struggle to do what he does best, I took a scalpel from under my pillow and hurt him in the private area and he ran away. That evening my grandma came back and asked me what was going on, I told her I was just sick and had some headache, and I couldn’t come out of my room,” she said.

The next day, she scaled the wall in a bid to inform her mum what was happening at a place she initially thought would be a safe haven for her.

“My mum wasn’t there so I had to wait until evening. When she came back, I opened up and that day coincidentally my dad was at the door and he heard everything I said. When he came in, he came with a lot of anger and force and started beating me and my mum. My mum was like why are you beating my daughter and she hasn’t done anything? There was a fight between my dad and my mum, and it was not that pleasing for a kid to see the parents fight in that manner. He was really mad and took me to my maternal grandma’s house which also was not far from where my parents and I used to live,” added Joyna.

At her maternal grandma’s house, everything was fine until she discovered that Joyna was HIV positive. Stigma and discrimination became the order of the day, until she lost the resolve to live.

“Whenever I touched bottles which contained the drugs, automatically they would make noise. So, she used to say that I was making noise with those bottles. She even restricted me from going into other rooms because she claimed that I would infect her and her other grand kids.”

When she could no longer take it, she called her mum to take her out of that house but her mother said she had no other option of where to take her.

“It wasn’t really a bed of roses for me to stay there. At the end of the day, we fought and I went back to my mum’s house. My dad had passed on like a year before I went back, and I was really at peace because now I was with my mum and now, I could live freely,” she added.

Unlike most people who undergo counselling in order to heal after such ordeals, Joyna said it did not work for her. He chose the path of speaking to people about her past, which in turn helps her get it out of her chest.

Joyce Omollo, Community Health Promoter and mentor says SGBV cases are rampant within slums in Kisumu, such as Nyalenda. She says perpetrators have come up with a new trend of committing the heinous acts.

“Perpetrators have come up with a new trend of defiling our teenagers when they go out to urinate at night. They take advantage of our young girls because it is a slum area, and latrines are a bit far from houses,” she said.

“As parents, let us be watchful of our girls. Let us be vigilant. Even if it means escorting our children to the latrines at night, let us do it to avoid more cases. If it means improvising containers that our girls can urinate in during the night, then I think it will leave little chance for them to be defiled,” advised Omollo.

She urged community members to report cases, adding that officers at the Nyalenda police station are very cooperative when it comes to tackling SGBV cases.

“I have one case that was successfully prosecuted and the perpetrator is behind bars for 20 years, while the survivor went back to school. That means that if we report more cases on time and provide evidence, then we are going to find justice,” she emphasised.

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