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16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence

"I" Stories: When a child is raped

Natasha Kangele

2008-12-03, Issue 410

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/16days/52393

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My name is Natasha Kangele and I am from Malawi. I came to South Africa when I was ten years old. As a child, I grew up with my mother’s sister due to family problems. Growing up in my aunt’s house was not a piece of cake. It was like living in hell because she did not like me that much. So one of the horrible days of my life came, the day I lost my womanhood in a way that I did not expect. I was raped when I was 12 years old.

My name is Natasha Kangele and I am from Malawi. I came to South Africa when I was ten years old. As a child, I grew up with my mother’s sister due to family problems. Growing up in my aunt’s house was not a piece of cake. It was like living in hell because she did not like me that much.

So one of the horrible days of my life came, the day I lost my womanhood in a way that I did not expect. I was raped when I was 12 years old. We were living with another woman by the name Anne. That morning, Anne sent me to the shops to buy something. Coming back from the shops, a man was following me. He came to me and said that I should follow him or else he will kill me.

I felt a gun on my back, so I had no choice. He took me to his place in Berea. There he raped me. When he finished what he wanted with me, by God’s grace he took me back home. It was not easy getting home but I managed to get there. Before going in the house, he threatened me by saying that “if you tell anyone about what happened…I know you... I will kill you.”

When I got home Aunt Anne was waiting for me, and she suddenly noticed that something was wrong with me. So, I told her what happened to me that morning. She suggested that we wait for my aunt who at that time was at work. We waited from 9am until 6pm, that’s when she came home.

When she saw me, she said that I was not raped, but that it was my boyfriend. She managed to tell everyone at home that I was lying, saying that I was raped. Everyone believed her story. Can you believe this? Even my best friend believed the whole story.

I was so disappointed and I was very angry with everyone. I needed my family and friends, but they where nowhere to be found. For me, home was no home; it was just a place to live because I had nowhere to go as a child.

As a child, I felt the rejection and I started to hate my family. I hated them all, I hated myself and everything around me, especially men. The biggest reason that I hated men was because I had lost my pride as a woman in a way that I have never dreamed in my life.

All these years I have carried this secret with me, until recently I spoke to a very good friend of mine about what happened to me years back. He said that it was not my fault and he made me realise that I have to let go of the whole situation and move on with my life. One day he phoned me when I was at work and he asked me if I was ready to speak out and let other women know about my story.

I agreed because I needed to move on and I was tired of living with that anger and hatred. He took me to the “I” Stories workshop speaking out on Gender Violence in Southern Africa. There I met great women and men, some who lived in abusive relationships and some are still living in abuse.

So, now that you heard and read my story of abuse, please women and men of South Africa say “NO” to abuse. Remember that there is no abuse in love. If someone is abusing you in the name of love, then you are living in hell.

If you know someone who is living in abuse, my brother, my sister, my mother and mothers of Southern African please give them as much support as you can. If you are going through the same situation that you think is abuse, then say, “enough is enough”. Say no to violence in your life because that is not love but that is violence abuse.

I pray that may God give you the strength that you need to say no and to go on living even when you feel like you cannot go on. Remember that you are the reason that the sun is shining out there and, because you live, a new day comes. For you are the pillar to the women and children of this country.

* This story is part of the I Stories series produced by the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service for the Sixteen Days of Activism on Gender Violence

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