13 November 2012

Uganda: Born of Rape - Loving the Good That Comes From Evil

I had kept myself for 17 years waiting for that special wedding night, but those heartless men robbed my innocence. Unfortunately, I did not recognise any of them since they wore masks. I discovered three months later that I was pregnant.

I hated and rejected my son because he was just a mistake in my life. I did not want him because I was unlucky to have been raped at a younger age and that is how I conceived him. My dreams were shuttered because of his useless father.

On that awful evening as I was coming back from the trading centre, I met a gang of boys who created a ring around me in the blink of an eye.

My legs trembled as I tried to run away, but one of them grabbed me and wrestled me to the ground.

I was so frightened and shouted for help but in vain. I collapsed due to too much shock and by the time I woke up, I was lying in a pool of blood and just like that I had lost my virginity.

I had kept myself for 17 years, waiting for that special wedding night but those heartless men robbed my innocence.

I pulled myself together and went back home, I was crying and shivering at the same time. I confided in my mother, who later told my father about the issue. Unfortunately, I had not recognised the boys' faces since they wore masks.

It was a lost case; we prayed so much that I turn out not pregnant and HIV/AIDS negative. Even though I was lucky to be HIV-negative after three months of waiting for the results, my tummy was already protruding and I was showing all signs of pregnancy.

At such a young age, I was totally unprepared for a pregnancy and raising a child on my own, but my parents, although they were very annoyed at first, decided to show me love and give me the emotional and other support I needed.

Being from a staunch Catholic family, abortion was out of the question because it is tantamount to murder. I had only one option - to give birth. It was not easy though because I had to drop out of school at seven months.

My friends sat for their S4 national examinations as I was at home nursing a pregnancy I did not want. I tried to commit suicide twice, but my parents were always keeping a watchful eye on me. That is how I survived.

I was so bitter for all the nine months; my parents hoped that when I gave birth, the bitterness would go away but unfortunately it just increased. I refused to hold the baby in my arms when the nurse gave it to me for the first time. Just a mere sight of him tormented me so much.

I also refused to breastfeed him. I did not want anything to do with that child, all I wanted was to re-arrange my life, go back to school and get a degree.

I thank God that I have such wonderful and understanding parents who looked after my son like their own. At first my son thought I was his sister and at the age of six, he found out that I was actually his mother. Whenever he tried to get closer to me, I would push him away. I spent 14 years hating this innocent child who had nothing to do with his fathers' evil ways.

Letting bitterness go

Being a boy, its most likely Miguel wanted to see his father, and despite the fact that he was not aware of the situation I had gone through to have him, he kept on asking me to take him to his dad.

One day, I just blurted out in the heat of an argument that I had been raped by four guys and that is how I conceived him. At first it made me feel exasperated because I never wanted to talk about the issue and had wanted to leave it in the past.

I told my son that he was such a big mistake in my life. That his arrival had disorganised my plans. I told him all the hurtful things that I would have told those men who went unpunished.

But young as he was, my son was so understanding; he knelt down, with tears flowing down his cheeks, and begged me to forgive him.

"Mummy, please forgive me, I did not mean to hurt you, I love you so much mum," cried my son.

I could not believe that a boy I had hated was asking me to forgive him for something he did not even know about. It takes divine intervention to love a product of rape, but all of a sudden I felt a huge weight get off my chest. I knelt down and hugged my son for the first time. I asked him to forgive me.

I cried so much and asked my parents to forgive me, while at the same time begged them to forgive me for abandoning my son.

Miguel is such a handsome and wonderful son, so intelligent, loving and caring. He said he does not want to meet this evil man - his father and promised never to talk about that matter anymore.

At 32 years, I am so proud to have a handsome 15-year-old son; I have a master's degree and now working in in an international non-governmental organisation that pays me well. I live with Miguel; he is my reason for living.

He makes me so happy, each time I hold or hug him, I regret all the time I wasted hating him. We do everything together; I cannot make a decision without asking him for advice, for he is my best friend.


Expert view

Can a child conceived out of rape be loved by the mother?

Tabitha Nabirye, a counsellor at Arise Foundation Uganda says a child conceived out of rape can still be loved and adored by the mother.

It does not come easily though because of rage and shattered dreams but the mother needs to know that the child is innocent.

The mother needs to seek professional counselling, so that she can learn to forgive herself, the man who raped her and the innocent child. To get through the experience, seek support from friends and family members.

In most cases, a mother in this situation might reject her son for long because she did not deal with what happened and felt worthless. The shattered dreams also make her to hate or reject her son.

To lessen the anger, it is important to go with someone and approach the rapist if they know or can access them and forgive him.

When the child is of the right age, sit him down and talk over it or find help from a counsellor.

Just forgive; it is not easy, but it is a principle in life we should take because it works well.

Raising and a child conceived out of rape.

Rose Nalwanga, a counsellor at Makerere University, says it all depends on how the mothers' family and friends treat, accept and supported her. Did someone counsel her? Unfortunately, some people blame it all on the victims.

It is important to get help from a professional counsellor, or even a spiritual counsellor, someone you can trust and is willing to listen any time.

Know that the child is not to blame and that he is also a victim of the situation; no one would want to be born out of rape.

Though he was got out of rape, he needs care and love. If the child is not loved, he might also learn to pass on hatred.

A mother should learn to forgive her child and also herself. Identify the child's strength and weakness, and always support him because he is human and he did not choose to come on earth that way.

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