This year I have observed several very disturbing trends! Today I’ll capture one of the ones I have observed among the informal working population by sharing 2 stories.
I attended to a rape victim, a young married mother of two, both of whom were under 2 years of age. Lucy was a stay-at-home mum, a privilege many mothers wish they had. But for Lucy, all was not rosy, far from a walk in the park. Her husband had become distant, and accustomed to verbally abusing her, branding her as useless and troublesome, a nagging wife who always asked for money and wanted to know where he was coming from whenever he arrived home late at night, (or even the following day), since she knew he finished work at 5pm. One wonders how this was a problem to him considering she is his wife, and as such has every right to know where he spends his free time!
He somehow expected her to chip into the financial requirements of the home (running the home). In the process of this growing distance between the couple, he met someone else, a woman’s worst nightmare. I remember she told me, “he doesn’t even touch me anymore” tears rolling down her face.
One day, Lucy answered an incoming call on her husband’s phone while he was asleep. It was late, about midnight, and she knew something was terribly wrong. The call was from “Janet”, who sounded surprised when she heard Lucy’s voice. Fast forward, Janet informed Lucy that she had been dating her husband for a few weeks now, and that she didn’t know he was married.
Lucy, distraught by her husband’s infidelity and betrayal, decided she was going to look for a job. She had had enough and to her it seemed like all this madness stemmed from her joblessness. She began looking for work online, work to sustain herself and her children, and maybe, she thought, her husband would love her once again.
Soon after, Lucy was contacted by a man who alleged he had the perfect job for her, but to proceed they had to meet up somewhere in Eastlands to discuss terms and conditions, and for him to explain the nature of the job. Excited, and having received directions to the meeting point, she quickly arranged for a baby sitter and off she went.
At 10am Monday morning she was at the meeting point, which turned out to be a lodging. She didn’t think much of it, after all she was there to discuss her new found job and this would be the beginning of a happy ending, or so she thought. The man she spoke to, John, arrived at the venue and was gracious enough to offer her a soft drink and a meal. And that was the last memory she had before she woke up to a never ending nightmare.
She found herself lying on a bed in a strange room, naked, bleeding and in tremendous pain from her anus and vagina, and the naked smiling John next to her. He quickly got up and started rummaging through her bag. He found her phone, dressed up, told her he would be back as he exited the room, locking the door behind him, and was never seen again.
Lucy was naked, bleeding, confused, in pain, and had no way of communicating with anyone.
After an unknown period of time, after which she was better oriented, she figured out what had happened to her, and soon realized that things could get worse; she couldn’t see any condoms or condom wrappers anywhere! A stranger had drugged her, raped her, and possibly infected her with the deadly virus.
Lucy was forced to bang on the door continuously and shout desperately hoping someone would let her out of this trap.
The constant questions ringing in her mind were “how will I tell my husband what has happened to me? How could I be so stupid? Why didn’t I see this coming?”. At the time I attended to her at the Police Surgery, several days had gone by and she still hadn’t told him what had happened. Even more depressing for her, was that he didn’t even notice that she was suffering in silence. And since he wasn’t interested in intimacy, her wounds went unnoticed as well…
Timothy had recently been retrenched from his job as a chef. Married with 4 children, being jobless was not an option. In his attempt to find work, he met a foreigner who promised him a position in his company as a chef. A meeting was scheduled at a hotel in a suburban area in Nairobi. The foreigner, an Asian male ( Mr X) kindly offered to move the meeting to his house which was nearby so that they could have dinner and drinks. Timothy was hungry, and had been for days! How could he see past that offer for a quick fix!
Upon arrival at Mr X’s home, Timothy was fed, as promised, and thereafter offered a delicious alcoholic cocktail. A few sips into the first cocktail, Timothy recalled feeling dizzy…which as he explained was odd because he was quite a tank. One or 2 drinks wouldn’t get him tipsy let alone drunk or dizzy.
His next memory was waking up in a foreign room on the bed, face down, naked and bleeding from the anus. As he tried to familiarize himself and conduct a quick situation analysis, used condoms scattered on the floor, blood stained sheets, wetness and intense pain in the gluteal region set alarm bells ringing in his head.
Timothy was still dizzy and felt sick, a combination of the effects of whatever he had ingested, and the anxiety and sheer horror of the situation he had found himself in. He dressed up as fast as he could and found his way to the exit door where he met by Mr X, wearing a huge smile on his face and carrying a plate of food he had just prepared for breakfast. Timothy refused to partake of the meal and instead headed straight for the door. He tried to run as fast as he could but his knees were weak, he had a splitting headache and he was groggy. He managed to call a friend who took him to the hospital where his worst fears were confirmed. He had been sodomized. He had been raped.
I must say, I was glad to see Timothy opt to pursue justice. Most men would literally rather die than face the “humiliation” associated with reporting such an incident. Our society doesn’t allow men to be victims of rape, to be depressed, or victims of domestic violence. Such men are viewed as ‘weak’ or homosexuals, which in our culture is taboo. Our men are supposed to be superhuman, men who never cry or mourn, who never feel sad, never experience depression and most definitely never caught dead admitting to being beaten by their wives let alone sodomized! Our men need love and attention just like the rest of us.
Forgive me for digressing, back to my take home message.
The 2 stories represent a myriad of such cases I have dealt with. Below are a few suggestions that may seem rather obvious but you never know what the pressures of life can make one overlook. To ensure one’s safety when going for job interviews:
- Meetings should be held in offices or public places during work hours, that’s 8am to 5pm. Definitely not in lodgings or residential areas!
- Inform 1 or 2 people about your whereabouts, who you are meeting, for how long, and even share their numbers.
- Do not go alone (especially ladies). Have someone accompany you and wait for you nearby until you are done. This will also serve to let the person you are meeting know that you are not there to make small talk and you have other things to do, and that SOMEONE IS WATCHING. They will think twice about trying anything silly.
- Avoid eating or drinking anything given to you for example, in a glass, as compared to a soda bottle, which you can open yourself or have it opened as you watch.
- Be alert.
- Embrace technology. Emails allow for a paper trail should the need to backtrack arise.
- In the event you are sexually or physically assaulted, please do no change clothes, do not shower, go to a hospital/police station immediately. and ask them to place your clothes on a PAPER and NOT PLASTIC If you do change, have them put the clothes in a PAPER BAG, again NOT PLASTIC. These will be needed for forensic evidence should you opt to pursue justice. For more on this please refer to the article “AFTER ASSAULT”.
- Report even if you do not know whether or not you will pursue justice.
*I recommend that survivors of sexual/physical violence “ask” for clothes to be placed in a bag or for samples to be collected, not because it is their responsibility, but because sometimes the relevant caregivers may not know exactly what to do for several reasons I cannot outline here.
Let’s be our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. I urge you to share this article widely. You never know, it just might help someone. It is time to break the silence on these tragic issues and bring us a step closer to stopping the rape culture in our society.