Gender Links (Johannesburg)

Madagascar - a Troubling Desire

This story takes place in a village about 50 km from town. A 16 year old girl, whose name was Lova, went to study there. Many youngsters from the countryside did the same, and Lova was one of them. Lova lived alone, and only had a few necessary things for her daily life. Lova's parents were rural people and had farming and agriculture livelihoods.

They lived 15 km from the place where Lova studied, but due to financial hardships, they could only come to visit her once a month. They brought her what was needed for her upkeep, such as padded rice, grains, some money and firewood that would suffice her for the month.

But one day a man of about 40 years of age, called Rampanana (The Richman), noticed Lova. He was married, but once he saw her nice figure and her beauty, he fell for her charm and insisted she go out with him. He did everything he could do to fulfill his lust on Lova. Nearly every day, he gave her some money to buy some snacks at school or for the other things she needed at home.

From that day onwards Lova's life changed completely. She looked more glamorous because of her new attire she could afford. Many men started to become attracted to her by then. Rampanana, on the other hand, became more and more jealous, and he did not hesitate to offer her huge sums of money to reach his objective. He wanted to have sex with the girl.

Lova, however, not only changed physically but made efforts to broaden her mind and she studied hard. She got many new friends, at school and in the village. She became a member of many associations too and it helped her to learn how to interact and to defend herself. She became more and more mature by following the advice she learnt from the various associations and especially from church.

Days went by, months went by, Rampanana could no longer stand it and decided to force Lova in a disguised way. He cajoled the girl with a lot of money and told her that he would come to her place that evening, and in his mind he intended to sleep there. Because of her difficult financial situation, Lova accepted the money. It was the end of the month and she didn't have much money left.

The supplies from her parents, had not arrived yet either. Indeed her parents usually came to visit and brought her supplies one week before the end of the month. That evening, Lova was really scared because she had never had sexual relations in her life; besides, she wanted to remain pure as per the advice she got from the various associations she was a member of. As a last resort, she decided to leave her house that night.

It was time for Rampanana to go to Lova's place. The houses in the country side are made of palm tree leaves and roofed with Ravinala, they are not locked and the doors can be pushed open. Rampanana entered the house and expected to see Lova waiting for him. He was so surprised to see that the house was quiet and Lova was not at home. The man got completely furious, he was so disappointed that he wasted his time in that empty house the whole night. He could not bear it, so at dawn, before he left, he burnt down the house and all that was inside.

The people who fetched water in the early hours and Lova's neighbors witnessed what happened that morning. They tried to extinguish the fire, but it spread so quickly. The village was in an uproar and soon afterwards the community had gathered around. Lova came back and everything was in ashes. She burst into tears.

Lova's parents arrived the following day with all the monthly supplies that they normally brought her. Once they had been informed about what had happened, they decided to file a complaint with a center which deals with such matters. It was the CECJ (or Listening and Legal Counseling Center).

After that the man, Lova and her parents were convened to the center. After lengthy discussions, Rampanana admitted his guilt and declared that he would compensate for all the harm he caused Lova. He deeply regretted his deed, since he was the head of a family. He ended by saying: "it is really what is called a troubling desire!"

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.

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