It does not rain but pours for an 11 year old standard 2 drop out Mary James (not real name) who has been defiled for more than six times by different men in 2013 alone.The girl hails from Ntcheu District and her mother is a sex worker and it is alleged that most of the times she stays in the streets. Her mother does not care about her and Mary is almost an abandoned child.
“Life as a street kid has not been all that rosy as I have been exposed to all sorts of bad things and I have lived in the harshest conditions you can imagine”, lamented Mary.
She recalls that when she was only nine years old, a 56 year old man defiled her in 2011 and now the man is in jail. As if this was not enough, a year later another man raped her and he is also rotting in jail. This year alone, Mary has been defiled by more than six different men and she says she cannot remember some and she cannot even report them to police because they were giving her some money.
“I cannot even remember how many times I have been defiled. Some were giving me K100. But the fact remains; ‘I have been defiled and defiled countless times’ ” said Mary while she was crying.
Mary is experiencing a lot of traumatizing scenarios and even her relatives are unwilling to stay with her citing that they cannot stay with a child whose mother is a sex worker.
Mary reported the matter to YONECO’s Ntcheu district Office in September, 2013. After hearing her ordeal, the Office referred her to District Social Welfare Office. The District Social Welfare Office together with YONECO went to her mothers` relatives at Nsipe area right in the district.
She was enrolled at Malonda Primary School and barely after two days, Mary decided to go back to the streets. YONECO together with the DSWO followed up the issue and learnt that her grandmother was stigmatizing her.
After this circumstance, she then decided to stay with her Aunt who resides at Ntcheu Boma. However, her aunt does not have any income generating activity but she still accepted to stay with her. YONECO counselled the Aunt together with Mary and it was agreed that she should go back to school and she was admitted at Mdeka primary school. YONECO paid K500 for school development fund and she was very committed and dedicated to her studies.
After three weeks she ran away from her Aunt’s house and she was now staying with some sex workers. Her aunt looked around for her and she was found after a week. They reported the issue to YONECO and the matter was being followed up by the organisation’s National Helpline Project Officer Hughes Munthali who promised to identify a foster home. It was assessed that there was a compromise in terms of the child’s safety and where she had been staying.
Munthali requested the DSWO in Ntcheu to write an assessment report and send it to YONECO’s National Child Helpline in Zomba. When the DSWO was briefed about the arrangement, they said they should first consult Mary’s relatives so as to get their views on the matter. After some days the DSWO said Mary’s relatives were reluctant to release her and that her mother had promised to take care of her in spite of the fact that sometimes the mother stays in Mwanza or Mulanje.
On 6th December, 2013, a YONECO volunteer reported to the organisation that Mary had been defiled by a Minibus tauter. He explained that the tauter met Mary at a certain shop where Mary begged him K100.
The tauter told her that he had such an amount at his house and as such he told her to accompany him to get the money. When they arrived at the house, he defiled her and he did not give her the money. The following day, the tauter promised her that he will give her the money soon after he knocks off and asked her not to leave the house.
When she got out of the house to relieve herself, some neighbors noticed that she had some difficulties in walking. When she was quizzed, she disclosed that she was defiled. She was taken to YONECO where they took her to police and then to the hospital where results showed that she was indeed defiled and immediately she received PEP.
The Minibus tauter got wind of the fact that Mary had reported him to police and immediately he disappeared from the area and he is still at large. Mary is now staying at her Aunt’s house who is currently very sick.
YONECO has lost trust on the ntcheu DSWO and is asking the Director of Social Welfare in the Ministry of Gender to take up the case and speed up the process of assessing Mary so that she should go to a foster home. At the moment Mary is at YONECO Safe place in Zomba and she has been there for over 3 weeks now. Apart from YONECO Ntcheu district Hospital is also desappointed with the district social welfare officer and they have been asking for how many times will Mary be subjected to PEP? The Hospital team feels the district child protection systems are very week to protect Mary from further defilement. The Ministry of Gender has since directed Zomba District Social Welfare officer to assess Mary’s situation and write social report for government action.