It was on the 28th of November, 2000, when my life changed for the worse. It was in the summer and in a rural village that we normally went to in order to visit the rivers and clean our feet. We wanted to prepare for Christmas, so that when the 25th of December came, we would look beautiful and clean especially because we would wear new clothes that day. It was very hot, and I decided that I should go and clean my feet. I asked my friends to go with me, but they were all busy. I had already told my self that I was going, so I went anyway. Besides, it was not far from our village and I had been there many times before and nothing had happened to us.
I was getting excited about Christmas because when we went to wash our feet, it was a sign that Christmas was near. We would soon be wearing our new clothes and eating nice food. I sat down and washed my feet, the water was really nice and I was really enjoying the beauty of the surrounding nature. There were some Shepherds near the river I was at, I do not think they could see me, but I was able to see them. I did not hear that scum when he came; I only saw him when I looked up because I was looking down and singing. He greeted me and asked me if he could join me, but I refused. He said, "what if I join without your permission, what would you do?" I did not answer that question.
He came over and asked me why I did not take off all of my clothes. I told him I take off my clothes only when I bath at home. I was not bathing; I was only cleaning my feet. He told me that he was going to join so that I could clean his feet too, but I refused. He then took off his clothes and told me to take off mine. I started to panic because I was realising that he was serious. I tried to look to see if the shepherd could see me, but they had already moved to another place. They were further away than when I got there, but I could still see some of their animals.
He told me to take off my clothes so that we could have a bath together and then he pushed me in the river. He got into the river too and slept with me in the water. When I called for help he put his hands over my mouth so that I could not speak. When he was done, he told me to put on my clothes and he made me walk with him. I did not know where he was taking me to.
I was very tired. When we finally stopped at another place, he raped me again and told me that he was going to give me a present. I did not understand what he meant. After he had finished he told me to go. I did not know where I was, and I had to find my way home. When I got home I cried like a small girl, and I tried to explain to my parents, but I could not even say the words because I was crying. In the morning, I told them everything and they took me to the hospital and then we went to the police station. The police could not find him. Within the next year,
I got very sick and we did not know what was really wrong with me. My parents decided to take me to the hospital and I was diagnosed HIV. I just could not believe it, I could not stop crying. I remembered that he told me that he was going to give me a present. That is the present--he gave me HIV. I still cannot believe that I am living with HIV, and I am taking my antiretroviral every day.
This story is part of the "I" Stories series produced by the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service for the Sixteen Days of Activism on Gender Violence.