Christine was a very lively young woman, beautiful and smart in all aspects. Her life was full of happiness and her smile illuminated hearts wherever she went. She was considered the jewel of hope in her family until a very traumatizing experience changed everything about her. It was on the 24th of July, on an evening out to a busy market with a friend that an incident took place and left a permanent mark in her life.
On that fateful day, as they did the shopping, the weather suddenly changed and there was a heavy down poor that resulted into electricity blackout in several suburbs of the town. The rain took about 3 hours to stop and had rendered commuters motionless as they couldn’t simply move in the rain.
Together with her best friend Fridah, Christine left the market a little past 9pm after the rains had stopped. The boda boda riders came already parked with 2 passengers each as they tried to find any that could take them home before it got late.
After several unsuccessful attempts, they then decided to walk as there was nothing more they could do. As they strolled through the streets on their way home, three men appeared behind them while speaking in accents reminiscent of drug abusers.
Christine and her friend didn’t understand any bit of their strange dialect that for a moment sounded like Jamaican patios. Fear gripped through them when the men signaled something that appeared to be telling them to stop. She told her friend that they needed to run as the men appeared to violent. They ran for as fast as their feet could take them.
Fridah was the first to be captured by the one of the men as she was chubby and couldn’t run for a longer time. A few minutes later, she was caught too, tried to fight but a thunderous slap to her face put a stop to her struggle. The men dragged them to a building still under contraction. A pungent smell emerged from the men as they spoke while chewing unknown fresh leaves, smoked Marijuana and drank liquor.
“Tonight is a good night.” One of them said as he licked his lips while staring at the girls.
“This one is called Christine, she comes from a village neighboring mine.” A tall one with a hoarse voice said.
“Hmm they look fresh, let’s have a good time.” Another said and moved over to rip Christine’s clothes off.
They later raped Christine and Fridah in turns for several hours and walked away leaving the women in a complete mess as they couldn’t walk.
The next morning, Christine and Fridah were found by a group of builders who had delivered bricks to the site. They rushed them to the hospital and that was how their families found out about them.
They dropped out of school, what a mess!
The following months proved very traumatic for both girls that Fridah dropped out of school and having been considered a wasted woman, embarked on self-destructive activities as she regarded herself useless and only fit to be dead. She turned to drinking all kinds of spirits and wines in order to forget what happened to her.
Christine on the other hand tried to continue with school but as time went on, she faced a lot of stigma from her fellow students and other parents who were observing Fridah’s actions for the past few months. Later, Christine too dropped out of school severs months later since students feared to associate with her as their patents didn’t deem it feet.
She stayed home for two years and as expected for a young woman of her age by then, a charming young man came by and showed interest in marrying her. He was from a nearby district of Serere. The young man visited Christine’s parents and soon the day for the traditional wedding was set, three months from that day.
Christine anticipated a lot and for once, her former vibrance returned. She became happy again and was very radiant until a week to the wedding when her Suiter decided to pull out of the whole arrangement sitting promiscuity from Christine. He said somebody had told him Christine was not the kind of woman he should marry and that she had been used by several men in the past.
Christine once again turned into the sorrowful woman she was after the violent incident two years earlier. She tried to be strong but since the news of the flopped wedding spread through her community and everyone knew, wherever she would go, people would start whispering among themselves. Everyone took a piece of her life and shared it with whoever cared to listen. It became too much for her to bear that she decided she had enough.
She picked a rope and went out to a nearby tree in a bushy area. She climbed up, tied the rope on one branch as emotions overwhelmed her. Memories of the incident flashed through her mind as voices of her community members accusing her of being a loose woman played in her head, the words of her most recent accuser (supposed husband) even made it worse as she recalled him calling her a prostitute. Tears were flowing from her eyes continuously as she cried with memories flooding her mind. She then put the rope around her neck and jumped.
Christine found herself in the hospital!
She woke up in hospital two days later having been saved by a herdsman who happened to be passing by when she was jumping. She was rushed to the hospital and the police were notified. While in the hospital bed, a police woman stood outside keeping an eye on her as per the law of the land, she had committed a crime commonly known as a misdemeanor. She tried to kill herself and therefore was liable to stand trial and eventual sentence.
Christine was remanded to prison a few weeks later and was sentenced to a year in jail. The blame on Christine was overwhelming as everyone called her a misfit who only deserved to be in jail. She was charged in a normal court where other criminals were charged too.
The factors that led to her attempted suicide were never considered as she was guilty of the case against her.
No psychological help was rendered to her even during the time she went through the ordeal of being sexually violated.
She served her time in jail and as the saying goes locally, once a convict, always a criminal. So she until today is still being considered a loose woman in her childhood community. She now lives with bitter memories of her past which always come up every time she makes a visit to her village.
Why is the law condemning people who are going through a psychological breakdown. (Those with legal backgrounds and a better understanding of the Ugandan constitution, can you clarify this.)
Suicide considerations (thoughts) is a sign of a much wider problem going on in a person’s mind, there is no way jail time can change such a mind.
These kind need help and not judgement as the law puts it right now.
PS: Fridah got divorced three years later and is now HIV positive with four children, one boy of whom is also positive as he got the virus through mother to child transmission.
Written by Eninu Williams, Tel: 0783-642052.
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