Pass The International Violence Against Women Act.
Dear President Obama,
Women in my community,country and the world continue to suffer.This is a summary of a true story-of what i experienced and is experienced by other women every day:
I was only 25.My son was 5 and my daughter 3 when my husband died.This became the beginning of a continuos tragedy-endless abuses for me and my children along the years.This was in August,1999.
After the burial of my husband i thought i would continue with a "normal" life of a widow,but that was never to be.
One morning,in December of 1999,at around 10:00am my brothers-in-law,accompanied by their wives,stormed into my house.They were 3 couples so they made a total of 6 and also accompanied by their three eldest sons.This made 6 men and 3 women.They demanded that i give them the title deed for my parcel of land that my husband had left behind.I told it was supposed to be in my custody and there was no way i was going to release it.They said i was not entitled to it because of two reasons-that i never brought the land with me when i came here to be married and that the relationship between me and them was over now that my husband had died.
Two of the men tied me up with a rope and started beating me up with big sticks.The rest of the group went into my bedroom.They broke my suitcase and took my husband's death certificate and title deed,left me still tied to the tree outside my door and left.
The children came out of their hiding place and my 5 year old son then came and untied me,using a knife to cut off the thick rope.He left me sitted there since i could not walk or move so they started crying around me.Later on they spotted a passer-by who came over and took me to the nearest public hospital.I requested this man,who was just a passer-by and unknown to me,to take my children to my sister's home meanwhile.So the children walked beside the bicycle as this man pushed me to hospital.
I was hospitalised for one week.After my discharge from the hospital i went and reported to the local chief.He was a member of the same family.He referred me back to the people who had molested me! He said that i had to go back and seek audience with my brothers-in-law before he could take up the case.I did so and they said if i wanted any audience with them then i had to be inherited first.(The true meaning of being inherited in this community means having sex with another man after the death of one's husband,regardless of whether you love him or not).
Meanwhile my sister was under pressure on the other end.Her husband said there was no way he was going to feed these children along with his.So i had to take my children back with me to the place i call home for i had no options.
When i got there i found my bedding,including the mattress missing and many of my other household items.I decided to talk to one of them to call them back so we could negotiate if i could come back and stay peacefully in my house without further attacks.
When we sat down they said that the top condition was for me to be inherited.I told them this was not possible as i had been tested when in hospital and found HIV Positive.They said this was a lie and i was only being uncooperative.They had already brought an inheritor who was waiting all along to do his work.This is a man who was married to two women and they left because he used to participate in the killing of anybody who was found "guilty" of any offences in the village.I refused.
When i went to the river to fetch water he brought his clothes and left them in my house.It was taboo for me to remove them as this meant he had booked the place and so nobody else would occupy it.I carried the clothes back to his home.
When i came back home the whole village told me that this was taboo and warranted me death togther with all my children.Later they said that they gave me a maximum of 3 months to live since i had double reasons to die: Performing what was taboo and being HIV Positive.They then said that henceforth i was not allowed to farm for i was going to die.
This was in the year 2000.I said i would continue with my life-farming inclusive.My eldest brother-in-law tilled my land without consent.He came for me in the evening.I ran into the house and locked myself in.He broke down the door,literally placing it down.He stormed in and properly beat me and slashed my hand with a machette.
His son sympathised with the situation and took me to hospital.I stayed there for two weeks and got stitches on my hand too.When i came from the hospital i could not go back to my house for it had no door.So i decided to go and stay elsewhere in a single room that is mud thatched.I then got myself work as a house-help.My children then started going to school in this new environment.
When i went to check on my house after a month i found all the ironsheets of the roof peeled off by my brother-in-law and had used them to build his own house,which stands to date.
10 years down the line,i still live in problems away from my own home.Justice was never realized.My title deed still remains in the hands of my in-laws.My children go to school and my son will finish his final year of high school next year.I still have no house.
If i was a man,it would be different.Women have no voice in my community.Now it is upto me to see how i can build which is not possible right now.They have vowed never to return the title deed before i put up a house.
Many women around me suffer the same.Mine is only a single case.We need justice.I don't seem to be able to get it without money to bribe the corrupt authorities.I need somebody to listen.
12 years since the death on my husband,nobody has been taken to book.I suffer out with my children because a woman has no say.