“I have this terrible secret that I keep from my husband,” Leila (real name withheld) told The Nairobian. “I cheat on him with a demon!”
Leila recounted how a spirit has been defiling her since the couple moved to Mlaleo in Kisauni, Mombasa three months ago.
“When I am alone in the house, I sometimes fall unconscious and then this man comes over me, and we make passionate love. Though he fulfills my wildest fantasies, he does not allow me to see his face. I wake up aroused and sore, which makes me feel violated and dirty. I usually take a long shower, to wash the demon off,” she explained.
Asked why she has never sought help, she said: “Rape is a difficult thing for any woman to talk about. I told my husband that we need to move to another house, but he accused me of nagging.”
But a friend she confided in frightened her more, saying the demon would not leave her simply because she had changed houses, and that her ordeal would continue till proper ‘purification rites’ were conducted.
Another of her friends claimed nearly all houses in Kisauni are haunted and that the phenomenon is not new. Halima, a housewife, told this writer that during her pregnancy, two years ago, a spirit almost made her lose her baby.
“He used to come to me at three in the morning with my husband lying right beside me,” she said. “It got so bad that I had to finish my term at my parents’ home in Kaloleni.”
She says her mother organised for a religious teacher to conduct a cleansing ritual and gave her ‘protection’ which she wears round her wrist at all times.
The Nairobian also heard of cases where a woman is betrothed to a spirit from birth, but could not verify these claims.
“This usually happens in homesteads where the family is rearing a djinn for financial success, but you can never get them to admit it. However, one of the daughters, usually the prettiest, never marries. How do they explain that?” wondered a Kisauni resident.
SUPKEM Coast branch Chairman Shariff Muhdhar Khitami when contacted revealed he has dealt with similar cases by reciting certain verses of the Quran.
“Spirits are mischievous and evil, and those possessed require ‘ruqya’ (spiritual healing). It may happen especially for people who do not adhere to strict, moral and hygienic standards. Eating out in public is not good, and women should keep indoors during their periods unless it’s absolutely necessary,” he said.
Shabbir Talab, a leader of the Indian community at the Coast also concurred, explaining that exorcism is usually performed to cast out demons, and that women need to avoid indecent display of nudity to stay safe.
While Father Gabriel Dolan, a Catholic Church cleric, blamed the incidents on “the history of violence in places like Kisauni,” Sharon Hill, writing on http://doubtfulnews.com/2014/04/how-does-this-ghost-sex thing-work/ attributes the phenomenon to people ‘dreaming, hallucinating, imagining or having an episode of ‘sleep paralysis.’’
Counselling psychologist, Mary Ater, says this could be an unspecified delusional disorder more common in women than men.
“It is, however, difficult to make a clear diagnosis without adequate information or history about these women. Drugs, physical or other mental illnesses should also not be ruled out,” says Ater.