Blog by a 18 year old girl from South Africa
I have decided to write this blog to encourage other young people, children and elders who have gone through a similar situation. We need to have courage, because in life you may be denied of a lot of things, but that doesn’t mean it is the end.
I will start my story from the very beginning. My sister and I were born premature at only five months, sadly my twin sister passed away a day after birth. I stayed in an incubator for two weeks, but my mother discharged herself and decided to take me home with her. The doctor and nurses said she was taking a big risk because I wasn’t strong and matured enough to face the world outside an incubator. My mother had faith that I would not die and I believe that it was only a reason I lived.
I started growing up well and attend school without failure, until I got wronged at the age of 17. I got sexually assaulted (raped) on the day I was supposed to attend my first class of my final year in secondary school. This caused a lot of change in me and affected my studies, health and spirit being. I developed the pelvic pains after being assaulted and they caused changes in my menstrual cycle, this made me hate being a woman. The pelvic and menstrual pains were far beyond my control, so I would end up in hospital every month. This made me decide to consult a gynaecologist in order to freeze my menstrual cycle.
During my final year in secondary school, I went to report the case. This did not end well as the magistrate denied me justice, saying I seduced and was in love with the rapist. Even the psychologist denied me of a good counselling by judging me and making me feel as if it was my fault. I wanted to finish with my school, so I wrote my trial and final examination papers in total anguish from a hospital bed. The abdominal pains I was experiencing were later on confirmed to be from my reproductive organs.
November 2016 I met a guy whom I fell in love with. Five months later I broke up things with him because I was still in pain. Although I loved and cherished him, I had to ‘’make love sacrifices for my health sake and not make health sacrifices for love’’. These were his exact words when we ended our relationship.
One year and seven months after being assaulted I was diagnosed with HIV. I took my sister with me to the clinic to confirm I was really HIV positive. I tested countless times, but the results came back positive every time. This was a big shock to me. I felt like a living corpse, like I am nothing and nobody.
A month later I attended the REPSSI/RIATT-ESA Children and Youth Forum which was held in Arusha Tanzania, in September 2017. This gave me new inspiration, I left the forum finally feeling alive. The forum was the soul searching platform that I needed to revive my spirit. I was overwhelmed by the story of Mr Jake Glaser. His teachings resurrected my soul and spirit being. I asked him of how he lived positively for more than 3 decades and how this had affected different areas of his life. Talking to Jake Glaser has helped me to finally find closure.
As a young adolescent I was denied the right of human dignity, respect, justice, good health, peace, counselling, and the opportunity to love. But I was NEVER denied the right to life and to be myself. I may have been denied of countless things in my life which makes a bad history, but those denials don’t shape my future. I now know that there are greater things and opportunities in life and I can still be that ‘’unshakable and Independent woman” I always wished to be. This is why I have started to collected the pieces of myself and assemble them back together again to be even better than before. I am glad that my soul still sings the song of ‘’Denial is not final’’.
My message to my peers and all those who have come across trials and tribulations, forced into a corner and pushed beyond the edge is that ‘’A setback is a setup for a glorious comeback ‘’. Make a grand entrance and shame your enemies. Anyone can do it, you just have to keep digging and pushing to the limit of your satisfaction.
I will say it again ‘’My denial is not my final stroke’’
Violence against women and girls is a persistent human rights violations and threatens millions of women and girls. According to UN Woman, in eastern and southern Africa one in four women has experienced physical or sexual violence in her lifetime. Violence against girls in school is one of the major contributing factors for high school dropout rates for girls.[i]
Violence against woman and girls also increases the risk and vulnerabilities to HIV infection. There is a strong body of evidence that links violence against woman and HIV infection. These studies show that women living with HIV are more likely to have experienced violence, and that, women who have experienced violence are more likely to have HIV infection.