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Post election violence rape survivor: I have forgiven them

WEDNESDAY LIFE
By Brigid Chemweno | May 18th 2016

My name is Elizabeth Atieno and I am a resident of Nairobi’s Mathare slums. I am a gender activist and I participate in creating awareness about sexual violence which came about following my experience during the 2007/2008 post-election violence.

I was only 17-years-old and a form three student when the violence broke out and I ended up being gang raped.

It was December 31, 2007 and I had visited my step-mother in Kariobangi, Nairobi when all hell broke loose. I had just stepped out at about 4pm  to visit my elder sister in the neighbourhood. We were to usher they new year at her house.

On my way, I met a group of about 20 youths from a different ethnic community. They were armed with crude weapons. They asked me something, which l could not understand. Realising l was not speaking their language, they hit me and I passed out. I woke up the following day beside the road completely naked and bleeding profusely.

The pain I underwent following this trauma was unfathomable and three weeks later I got to learn that I was pregnant. My friends and relatives advised me to abort the baby so that I could continue with my education considering that I was being educated by relatives since I lost my parents at a tender age.

I failed to heed their advice and after this, there was no one to help me and I had to drop out of school. This is how I landed in the slums doing casual jobs to earn a living. I gave birth to a baby girl on August 30, 2008 and I was not happy with her because her presence reminded me of the bitter experience.

After many upheavals and struggles, I got to learn about and joined a community based organisation dubbed Grace Agenda which caters to survivors of sexual violence. Many of these women and girls were raped during the post election violence and have children born as a result of the rape.

From these interactions, I realised that I was not alone and that like me, many women are suffering in silence. I became proactive in human rights and now visit survivors of sexual violence.

Interacting with these women gives me strength and I find relief in my advocacy work.

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