Imagine being a little girl who needs to tell your daddy those words?
Last year was a rough one for Eve for Life. We have noticed over the past few years, that the girls who are the survivors of sexual abuse are getting younger and younger. We were once dealing with 15 to 16-year-olds, young to be sure. Now though, we are handling girls as young as eight, and that we can imagine is a touch more traumatic.
A couple months ago, our Survivor Mentors were doing a talk at a school when a tween girl revealed that she too had been molested. Often when our mentors go out, because they have this shared experience, there’s a girl in the room who’s likely going to come forward with, “You know, this happened to me too.”
At that time, her father was not aware of the situation as she hadn’t yet told anyone. We had been the first persons she told, so when the mentors called, I cautioned that we take a moment to breathe. First, we shared with the principal, who then put us in contact with the girl’s father.
When I got him on the phone, he was quiet, and so the first thing I asked was, “How are you doing?” To that he replied, “Mi want a gun.” I could sympathise but I cautioned against it, “I fully understand,” I started, “I can’t support you doing that.”
As a mother, I could understand the pain he was feeling. Added to that, was the knowledge that it was his bredrin did that did it.
“I have my daughter from when she was two months old.” He said to me. He was a single father and the man who was supposed to have his back, a man he trusted in his home, his bredrin, had done something like that. You can understand the depth of his pain.
The mentors – who we must remember are survivors themselves and in situations like this may also be triggered – they were the ones who took the father and his daughter to the police station to make the report. But there, they were told that the officer who was responsible for taking statements was away at court.
So, they left empty-handed.
They then went to a health centre where they were told that there weren’t any available doctors to see the girl. That was followed by a visit to the hospital where they were told by a clerk that the doctor didn’t deal with those sorts of cases at the hour they were visiting.
You see, this is how hard it is. Not only is it frustrating to not be able to accomplish the serious tasks of reporting and receiving medical care. Our mentors and their charges must also incur the cost of public transportation in such a delicate time.
The day after, the process restarted, and they were successful. They were able to get the statement done and the child was able to go to the hospital. But without that support, there is a high chance many families would have already quit and worse, the girl might not have said anything about her experience until she was older, if ever.
Perhaps, after all she had gone through, when she’d finally feel she could speak up, someone would say: “Why did you take so long to talk?”
What is UNICEF doing?
UNICEF is proud to support Eve for Life as part of our work to prevent and reduce violence against children. The 2002 and 2008 Reproductive Health Surveys both found that 20 per cent of young women below 19 report that their first sexual encounter was forced. Going forward, UNICEF will focus increasingly on advocating for increased measures for the prevention of sexual violence against girls. Joy Crawford, who is the co-founder of Eve for Life, was speaking during a meeting with singer Romain Virgo who donated a portion of sales from his song ‘Dutty Man’.