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Been through hell

Sometimes when you hear or read women’s mistreatment under the hands of fellow women or men, it really doesn’t hit like when you encounter face to face with victims of such violence. I had the opportunity of meeting Everline Akoch a victim of domestic violence at both the hands of a fellow woman and men. She told me amid sorbs and said she hoped her story will be an eye opener to many disadvantaged women out there.

It began like any other day when my aunt arrived home from Nairobi to visit with us. My grandmother was excited to have my aunt around. My grandmother told me to skip school that day so that I could prepare for my aunt some meals. I was happy to see her because since the deaths of my parents I had not for long seen close relatives visiting with us. My grandmother had become our soul provider. I was 8 years old then and the year was 2000.

My aunt had brought goodies for us like sugar, bread, wheat flour and rice. My grandmother was sickly and had requested my aunt to come for me so that I could have a stable life. After lunch my aunt told us that one of her reasons of coming was to take me back with her to the city to live with her. She even told us that she had got for me a school. I was very happy and quickly arranged my clothes in the paper bag that she had brought us goodies in. After two days we left for Nairobi. I didn’t know my journey of sorrow and misery had just begun. I never came to see inside of a school. Little did I know that my aunt was looking for cheap labor without pay. I became the house help. When I inquired about schooling she told I should go and ask my mother’s grave. Sometimes she whipped me thoroughly and never let me to play.

I was never to see the inside of a school again. My aunt made sure I did all the house chores and when I told her I wanted to go back to my grandmother she reprimanded me that that was her mother and I should not think of going there because she would never allow me to be a burden to her mother. She would go back to the village and when asked how I was faring on she cheated I was doing well and had a lot of school assignment to do that is why I was not able to go to the village and see my relatives there. I spend sleepless nights thinking of my parents who had succumbed to death due to HIV/Aids in the year 1999 when I was 7 years old. I remember one day she told me I was good for nothing and was immoral like my parents.

Any small mistake would earn me beatings from my aunt. I remember one day she came home and saw blood stains on my dress. She didn’t bother to find out what had happened but beat me thoroughly accusing me of having misbehaved with a boy in the neighborhood. At that time I was twelve years old. This was my first monthly period and I didn’t know how to tell her. I just told a neighbor the following day that gave me cotton wool and even showed me how to use it. My aunt didn’t bother to find out how I copped with my puberty. Our neighbor’s house help is the one who took care of my situation. She even told me to use clean rugs when I had my periods and no sanitary towels were coming my way. When she left for another employer, I had to make do with the blanket rugs she had cut for me. Thanks to this girl called Levina. She really cared for me like her own small sibling.

Her husband took advantage of this. He would also hurl abuses at me in her presence but when she was a way he would fondle me and even ask me to sleep with him. I was so terrified but I feared my aunt. I wouldn’t dare share with her this. She would skin me alive. He made it a habit to rape me always so that I saw no value in life. I conceived twice with him but would wait when my aunt had traveled up country then organize for an abortion. He would rape me the whole night immediately from hospital. His two children were too young to know what was happening. One was two and half years old while the other one was one year old.

In the year 2007 I met a woman whom I knew. She is a neighbor back in the village. She told me that she was a fish vendor in the famous Gikomba market in Nairobi. I told her what I was going through. She promised to help me. She went back home and shared with my grandmother my predicaments. Next time she came to Nairobi she insisted I was needed home by my uncles. That is how I survived my aunt’s mistreatments. My grandmother passed on in December 2007. I dreaded going back to the city. A neighbor convinced me to get married to Juma. She told me Juma is a good man who just needed a good wife like me. What she didn’t tell me was that he is a womanizer and an alcoholic.

The three years I have been Juma have been hell. He drinks too much and when he comes back home he beats me thoroughly. I have one child with him. Sometimes I think of leaving him for good but I don’t have parents to run too. I have started some small business but he comes home and demands for all the money I have raised from tomato sales.

The other day he came home with a woman the age mate of my late mother. To my surprise he ordered me to leave my matrimonial bed for his concubine. When I resisted, both of them landed on me and started beating me. I cried and left the house for them. I went to a distant cousin’s house for a week. I came back to him for the sake of my daughter but I don’t see him reforming. I also regret that I am again pregnant with his second child and I doubt whether I will carry this pregnancy to term because of the hell I am going through. He has run my tomato stock down. He says I go to the market to meet my men friends and not to sell as I pretend to do. He has threatened to kill me should he get me selling or talking to any man at the market place. He even accuses me of infidelity. He says the pregnancy I am carrying isn’t his and I should go to the owner. He says he hates daughters and should I give birth to another girl, then I shouldn’t come to his house because he already has a woman he feels he should be his wife.

I have told my story not because I want to scare people living with relatives or to solicit sympathy but kindly to remind relatives that if you have to stay with your niece or cousin please treat them well just like your own child. And for the men, stop beating your wives and having multiple relationships. Don’t take advantage of vulnerable female relatives under your roofs to satisfy your lust.

Comments

I am sorry Everline went through so much hardship after she was forced to leave her beloved grandmother. The fact that she has the courage to share her story speaks to her fortitude and strength. I hope that she is able to find a new situation for herself where she is respected and no longer abused. No woman deserves to be treated in this way and my thoughts are with Everline. I hope she finds refuge in your counsel and at Riruta UMC.

Riruta UW Empowerment Programme's picture

A step taken

I met Everline at Busia town, the border of Kenya and Uganda.I had gone visiting with my aunt and when she learnt of the kind of work I was doing for the women, she told me to go see Everline and if possible rescue her. I was touched and I had to wait for the husband to come and tell him that I was ready to take Everline with me to Nairobi for safety. He was reluctant to let her go. We had to move Everline and her daughter to her uncle's place after alerting the local adminstration of her predicament. We have beefed up her stock of tomatoes and kales and we hope this will help her piece up her life.

Anne Khadudu Baraza,
CEO- Riruta United Women Empowerment Programme
+254 729880651/ 020 2602803
!27-00502 Karen, Nairobi Kenya

jadefrank's picture

For Everline

Dear Anne,

Thank you for sharing Everline's story. It is one of pain and hardship that no human should suffer - she has suffered more than most will experience in a lifetime. My heart fills with sadness to imagine Everline withstanding such horrific abuse and I wonder how she finds the strength to carry on.

How did you meet Everline? And what can we do to help women like her? What programs have you created through Riuta to support abused women, and what do you see as the first thing we must do to begin combating the violence?

Please send Everline my love and support.

In friendship,
Jade

Riruta UW Empowerment Programme's picture

For Everline

I met Everline in Busia, the border of Kenya and Uganda. I was introduced to her by my aunt who thought she really needed to be rescued.
These women need capacity building programs. There is a lot of ignorance on human rights issues. They think it is African to be beaten and mistreated by their spouses. I think if we came up with a program where we set up a home for the bartered women to stay it would be of great help to them. I know of organizations that are helping young single mothers. I think they have programs that can benefit the bartered women.

In Riruta we have gender based sexual violence desk where we pick up such cases, make this women report to police stations and if need be we separate these women from their molesting husbands. With the microfinancing program, we set up businesses for these women. We encourage them to move out of the abusive marriage, get a house where they begin life a fresh. This sometimes is risky because the men keep on threatening the women and there are cases where molesting takes place. A safe home for the likes of Everline would be the best option.

In solidarity

Anne Khadudu Baraza,
CEO- Riruta United Women Empowerment Programme
+254 729880651/ 020 2602803
!27-00502 Karen, Nairobi Kenya

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