GIRLS SHARE SHOCKING EXPERIENCES DURING COVID19 LOCKDOWN
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Joy is 12 years old and in primary seven. Her life has never been the same ever since she survived gang rapists who attempted to defile her. On the fateful day, Joy (not real names) who had been sent to her grand mother during the long COVID 19 holidays had been sent to the shop and met four men who had waylaid her. “My grandmother sent me to the shop, but I sensed danger when these men started coming closer to me from different directions. On trying to run away, they surrounded me, and, in a few seconds, they were undressing me and touching my body uncontrollably” Joy breaks down as she shares her story. Joy was saved by a passerby who made an alarm and the group scattered leaving the little girl wailing. This sent her into trauma choosing not to talk to anyone or talk about what happened. To her grandmother, this was indiscipline, and she was sent back to her mum’s place where she lived until schools opened for candidates and she breathed a sigh of relief when she was taken back to school. Through the media clubs, High sound for Children introduces media to children and empower them to speak and it is during one of the sessions that Joy opened up to our speakers. Her opening up sparked more revelations from girl children who narrated their experiences during the tough COVID times and attempts to defile them. “Mine was a shamba boy. He came to our bedroom at night and tore my legging and knicker, I woke up like I was dreaming, looked for who was undressing me, but I could not see anyone. I went up to my parent’s bedroom and told them someone had torn my underwear, my dad moved straight to our shamba boy’s room and he was not there. He pretended to have been doing some work, but my parents didn’t buy his defense and he was fired” Another child aged 13 opened up. What is surprising in all these cases is that the children have never told any of the parents for fear of how they will receive the news. “I have not told my parents because they will think I was careless. They always tell me not to get out of the house, but I was in a different environment and could not say no when they sent me” Joy justified her decision to keep quiet. “My mother has cursed me time and again, boys keep harassing me, but I don’t know how she will react. I spoke to my friends who advised me to stop opposing the boys because they don’t have bad intentions but i feel it is wrong for me to start a relationship with any man at such a young age”. Another girl Brenda who has experience sexual harassment told HSC media. A recent report from the National child helpline has shown that over 1600 cases of defilement were reported during 2020 and over three hundred cases involved close relatives including fathers. Speaking to the girls, the Executive Director High Sound for Children Ms., Hadijah Mwanje blamed this on the poor relationship between parents and their children. “Parents do not have time for the children, and this has killed the relationship between the two. Children end up to getting information from wrong people who mislead them. Parents should befriend their children. The girls need counselling and we are going to work with our partners to counsel them and also engage their parents”. Ms Hadijah Mwanje said. She decried the increasing cases of sexual violence against children calling upon all stakeholders to rethink strategies on prevention, response, and protection of children. High Sound for children launched the media clubs in 2019 to introduce children to media and empower them to speak to increase child participation.