In January 2017, Linda (not her real name) was informed of a sudden travel to the capital city, Nairobi.
She was then 15 years old. Her mother told her she was to live with a distant uncle who had promised to bankroll her high school studies. She had scored 248 marks in the 2016 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education.
Their stay was messy.
Her grandmother was always grumbling over their presence. She wanted them out of her home. She desired Linda’s mother to return to her estranged husband, regardless of whether they were in good terms or not. But Linda’s mother stood her ground.
Amidst the distress, her mother sought to find refuge for her daughter while she found a way to escape from the sorehead granny.
And ‘hope’ did she find in this distant uncle. Off, she took her daughter to a bus station in Kisumu City and sent her to Nairobi, into the arms of a man who ended up being something else.
Linda says the uncle was 26 years old then and lived in a residential area in Kiambu County.
He sexually molested her from the first day she set foot in the house. There was no school for her.
Instead, he converted her into a sex slave. For close to eight months, he defiled her, impregnated her twice and forced her to procure abortions through the crude backstreet joints in Kawangware slums.
He resumed defiling her after every one month of procuring the abortion. Ideally, a woman who has had a normal delivery takes three months to recover or six months, maybe longer for those who birthed through caesarean section.
From 6am to 5pm, Linda stayed in the compound. He had ordered her never to look beyond the gate.
She says he had paid some people outside their residential compound to watch over her and notify him in case she ventured outside.
“He warned me against speaking with anyone. Not even the neighbours,” Linda speaks of the man who worked as a manager at a private primary school in Nairobi.
“He could scold me any time I requested him to allow me to talk to my mother. But I also wondered why my mother would not call to find out how I was doing,” she said.
She is now 18. This year marks three years since she was rescued by children’s officers.
The officers were tipped off by a neighbour. Linda had cautiously confided in the neighbour in her desperate search for help.
The children’s officers took her to the police station from where she was referred to a safe house in Kiambu County where she is currently housed.
She holds so much bitterness against her mother. And it can be seen from her physical reaction on mention of reintegration.
“I don’t want to see to her at all,” she says amidst a stiff frown.
She clasps her hands as tears dance in her eyes when she remarks: “I don’t know what I will do to her if see her.”
“How could she surrender me to a man who took away my innocence? Did she ever love me? She could not have done such a thing if she truly loved me,” she retorts as tears roll down her cheeks.
It took her more than a year to get over the self-blame over the abortions and regain her self-esteem and confidence.
“I kept asking myself, why did I procure the abortions? I told myself, ‘I could have escaped soon enough had I known I was pregnant and keep the pregnancy’,” she opens up.
But with regular counselling, Linda says she has since begun to love herself again.
“I have come from a place I defined myself as worthless and useless to where I value myself so much and could not entertain any intentions to exploit me sexually,” she says.
The safe house’s management has enrolled her in a Nakuru high school. She is now in Form Two and hopes to fulfil her dream of becoming an architect.
Article first published in nation.africa https://bit.ly/2JHfsSN