Mary’s Story

The below text is copyright, “Broken Bodies – Broken Dreams: Violence against Women Exposed.”:

“When “Mary”, a 14-year-old Kenyan girl was very young – she cannot remember her age at the time – her father claimed that she was not his biological daughter and tried to kill her. Running away from her house with no clothes on, she was taken in by “Jane”, an adolescent, who bathed, clothed and fed her, Jane worked nights as a child prostitute, and Mary soon joined her. One night, Jane brought Mary to a man’s house. Mary, who was high on alcohol and marijuana, doesn’t remember much of what happened, only that she was raped repeatedly and then locked in a room. For three days, her hands and legs were tied together and she was raped into submission. Mary’s rapist then became her pimp. He sent her out onto the streets at night and forced her to hand over her earnings each morning.

“I was so unhappy, but I had no choice. One day when I tried to escape, he caught me and put a knife to my throat. I screamed so loud. A neighbor heard me and came to the house. She took the knife away but didn’t help me any further.”

A group of child prostitutes who had heard about Mary’s troubles informed the police, who arrested her pimp and required him to undergo a medical examination, which confirmed gonorrhea. Mary, who stayed at the police station for two days and also had a check-up, had contracted gonorrhea as well. Police contacted the local nongovernmental organization End Child Prostitution in Kenya to help Mary. The agency, which had no funds for a shelter, referred Mary to a rescue centre in Nairobi, several hours away from where she was living. The facility, run by the Irish humanitarian agency GOAL, provides children with basic literacy training and medical support.

“I was so unhappy with my life, but had no possible escape. On the streets I had to keep all of my feelings inside – there was no one to talk to. At last I am okay, I feel so lucky to have been brought here. I still have terrible nightmares about that man when I sleep. If someone talks to me about that time in my life, I go blank and I feel dizzy. I cannot think straight. I have never had an education, but I am being given a chance to learn to read and write. I can’t think so far into the future at the moment. I am just so grateful for the help I have been given since my rescue.

“There are so many girls where I come from who have been raped and are living a life like I did. If anyone wants to help, we desperately need a shelter for those children to escape to – a shelter that can offer vocational training, and give them a chance for a better life.”

All text is copyright (IRIN). Full permission is given for reproduction for non-commercial purposes.

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