It was 6 o’clock when Susan left her friend Shiku’s house to go home. It had been a great Saturday afternoon hanging out, finishing their math homework and talking about their crushes. At 16, their list of crushes was long and they spent time giggling over movie stars and all the local boys that they liked. It would take Susan around half an hour to get home but it wasn’t dark outside so she would be ok.
As she was walking on the main road caught up in a daydream about her favourite crush, she heard hooting from a car. She had been looking down, deep in thought and she was startled. The car passed her and slowed down to wait for her. It was one of her crushes, a 21-year-old called David, who was a friend of her older brother. He was driving a red Toyota, his father’s car. David’s parents had gone to the US for 3 months to visit David’s older sister who had just given birth to twins.
She approached the car and saw that David was not alone. There were 2 girls in the car. She knew them, they were 18-year-old girls who lived in an apartment block near her estate.
“Can we give you a lift?” David asked.
Susan hesitated. Her mother had warned her against getting lifts from men but this was David. Her crush and brother’s friend. David lived in an estate 5 minutes from her house, actually on the way to her house. She wasn’t sure she should accept.
The two girls were looking impatient like they wanted to go.
David said, “come in. I won’t bite. I will drop you at home”
Susan blushed and entered the back seat. The car smelled of alcohol and cigarette smoke. The girl at the front was talking about the party they were going to attend that evening.
David was smoking as he drove. He asked Susan “Do you go out? We have a party tonight. You can join us”
Susan blushed and said “No. My parents don’t allow me to go out. They say I am too young but even if I reach 18 I don’t think they will let me rave anyway. My father is a church elder!”
One of the girls at the back said “how boring! You should sneak out and go out. I started going out when I was 15.” She was sipping from a plastic cup that had coke but smelt strongly of alcohol.
Susan didn’t know what to say. She wanted to look cool to David who was her crush. He probably thought of her as very immature.
They drove for a while with the girls talking about the party and how they would turn up. One of them asked David to drop them off at their apartment block as they needed to shower and dress up for the party. They agreed that David would pick them up in 2 hours. David dropped them off at their gate and Susan came and sat in the front seat.
Susan was glad the girls were gone. She would get to talk to David for a few minutes. She couldn’t wait to tell her friend Shiku that she had been in David’s car. Shiku would be so jealous because David was one of the cutest guys around, and he was the crush of many of their friends.
David said, “we are alone finally.” Then he winked at her.
He asked her about school. She told him about what she was up to.
“So, do you have a boyfriend?”
Susan was surprised that he was asking her this. “No! not yet!”
“What are the guys around here thinking? A beautiful girl like you should have a man to take care of her. To take you out on dates? Take you to the movies and buy you chocolates. You like chocolates, don’t you?
Susan was trying to wrap her head around the fact that David had called her beautiful. She felt a rush of emotions, happiness, shyness, and joy. She didn’t notice that David was entering his estate.
“I need to pick some money from the house to buy something for the party and change,” David said as he packed the car in the underground garage.
Susan said “It’s not that far from my house. I can walk.”
David smiled at her. “don’t be silly. I will drop you. I also have something for your brother. Don’t worry I will drop you off. Come into the house, I won’t be more than 5 minutes.”
He put his hand on her shoulder, and Susan’s heart was racing. He said teasingly “did your mother tell you not to enter a man’s house?”
Her mother had told her precisely that. But this wasn’t just another guy. This was David. She wanted to look mature so she agreed to go up.
They went up the stairs by lift to the top floor. David opened the door and ushered her into the sitting room. It was a beautiful room, with cream and red walls and matching furniture. David asked her what she would want to drink and he went to get it for her. He came back with some mango juice in a glass. He switched on the tv and disappeared into the corridor to the bedrooms. Susan drank the juice as she sat on one of the red and cream leather couches watching videos on MTV. She started feeling sleepy and wondered if she was tired. She was feeling lightheaded.
David came back to the sitting room, in his boxers. Susan felt unable to control her body. She didn’t know what was happening. David pushed her down on the sofa and started kissing her. Susan was startled and she started feeling scared. She couldn’t move… no matter how she tried. He undressed her and started touching her all over. Susan couldn’t do anything; her arms and body were not responding to her commands. In her head, she was screaming, and she tried to mouth words but no words were forming.
David kept talking about how she was beautiful, and that he would make her a woman. He laughed and said “relax I know you will like this. I know you like me.” After about 5 minutes he removed her panties and forced himself inside her. The pain was excruciating, and Susan tried to push him off but she was too weak. Her mind was fuzzy but she could feel everything. His body was heavy on hers as he violated her, his breath smelling of alcohol and cigarettes. When he was done he lay there on top of her and said, “now you are a woman.”
He cuddled her like everything was just fine. He spooned her, kissed her neck and ran his hands all over her body. He behaved like he hadn’t done anything wrong. Susan blacked out after that. When Susan regained consciousness David was seating next to her. He had showered and changed, he was smoking a cigarette and watching tv. Susan was still fuzzy just she saw he had dressed her up again. She started crying.
David watched her emotionless and said, “it’s time for you to go home.” He came to the sofa where she lay and she flinched, she wimped. He put his hand on her throat and told her, “This is our little secret. Don’t tell anybody… even your brother. If you tell anybody you will regret it. I will hurt you. Do you understand?”
Susan nodded, too fearful to say anything else.
David hugged her like nothing horrifying had just happened. He laughed as he helped her get off the sofa and she walked shakenly to the lift. In the car, he behaved like before they had gone into the house. He dropped her at their gate and drove off, loud music booming from his speakers.
Susan walked into the house with a limp. Her body was sore all over and she couldn’t focus properly. When she knocked on the door their helper opened the door. Her brothers were in the sitting room, playing video games. Her parents weren’t in the sitting room so she went to her room. She removed her clothes, got into the shower and washed over and over again. She couldn’t seem to get the smell of David off her. She got out, wore her nightgown and got into bed. She cried and screamed into her pillow. She felt so dirty and disgusting. Eventually, after hours of crying, she fell asleep.
2 months later
She was having a panic attack and she couldn’t focus. She was in the middle of her 2nd form end-year exams and she couldn’t concentrate. She couldn’t sleep well, she had nightmares about her rape ordeal. She would only sleep for around 3 hours because every time she closed her eyes she could see David. She had seen David a couple of times after that. He was cheerful and behaved as if nothing had happened. He had even come to their house and had joked with her brother how he had a beautiful sister and that he should be careful of team mafisi.
Susan was feeling unwell. She had been throwing up and she was unable to keep down food. This had made her feel weak. During chemistry practicals, after smelling some of the chemicals she fainted. She was taken to the school nurse, who called her parents.
When she regained consciousness, she was in the sick bay of school. Her parents and nurse were looking anxiously at her, but her parents also looked angry. She tried to get up. The nurse sat next to her and told him to lie down.
The nurse broke the news “Susan did you know you are pregnant?”
Susan tried to process the news. Pregnant! No! This nightmare she was in was getting worse.
Susan started crying and shook her head. The nurse said that she should go home and eat something. The school would have to be informed.
Her parents were silent on the way home. When they reached the house, her parents sat her down. Her father started shouting at her.
“Who is the father? Is this how we raised you, Susan? Instead of focusing on school, you are busy out there doing God knows what with boys. I want to know who did this” Her father started cursing.
Susan started crying. Her mother came and sat next to her, and hugged her.
“Tell us who the boy is?”
Susan was confused. She knew she wasn’t supposed to stay but she couldn’t keep the secret. She was tired of keeping the secret, which she hadn’t even told her best friend.
Crying she told her parents what had happened. Her parents were shocked and her father wanted to go and find David. After her parents had a heated back and forth, her mother called her sister who was a lawyer. Auntie May came immediately. Auntie May said the best thing would be to go to the police, make a statement and get counselling.
Susan was examined by the police doctor and a record was entered in the incident book. Her parents wanted David arrested immediately. The police were not in a hurry to go do it. They said they would get David to come down and give a statement.
“It is her word against his. Sasa tutajuaje nani anasema ukweli. This daughter of yours could be saying this just to look like she is innocent.” The policeman said as he finished writing the statement.
Susan’s parents also called their personal doctor and he met them at the hospital. He examined Susan and said that physically she was ok. The Doctor told them that going by the story she had told them her drink at David’s house had been spiked with a rape drug. That is the reason she had become weak and she couldn’t move while David sexually assaulted her. He had a private talk with Susan and she said she didn’t want the baby. Susan’s parents told the doctor clearly, she could not keep a child born out of rape. They asked him to carry out an abortion.
The doctor looked at them with sad eyes, “You know I would do anything for Susan. I have treated her since she was a child. But legally we are now not allowed to carry out abortions even when it is the result of rape. Abortion is not permitted unless, in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is a need for emergency treatment or the life or health of the mother is in danger, or if permitted by any other written law. I can’t help you. Susan will have to carry the child.”
The next month was hard for Susan. Everybody had heard that she was pregnant. They had also heard that she said David had raped her. Almost everybody sided with David. David could have any girl he wanted, he was a popular guy. Why would he need to rape a girl? Some girls even joked how they wouldn’t mind being “raped by David”.
She was stigmatized and shunned. Every time she left the house people discussed her, many laughing at her, while others looked at her with sympathy. David had gone to the police station with his lawyer and convinced the police that she was just being malicious. He was out on the streets like nothing had happened. Susan couldn’t even finish her exams; her school had suspended her pending a board meeting.
Susan now stayed in the house, not even leaving her room to eat. She did not want to see anybody, especially her brother who was David’s friend. Most of his friends had stood with David. She hated this thing growing inside her. She would have mood swings and her emotions were all over the place.
Shiku came to visit her. Shiku believed her and stood by her. When Susan told her that she needed to get rid of the baby, Shiku told her she would find out where she could get one done. The next week Shiku called her and told her it would cost her Ksh. 4000 to get one done in the slum nearby or Ksh. 40,000 in a hospital that performed secret abortions. Susan told her she would get the money to do the one in the slum. Susan sneaked out, met Shiku and they took a bus to a slum nearby. Shiku called the number she had been given by one of the maids in her apartment block and the person came for them. The person asked for half of the money in advance, whether she decided to do the abortion or not this money would remain with the abortion nurse.
They went deep into the slum, passing houses made of corrugated iron sheets and areas where there was raw sewage. Susan was scared, she thought of turning back but she couldn’t see herself keeping this baby.
They finally came to one of the houses and knocked. Their guide stated who they were, and the door was opened. Inside was a raised bed with some stools and basins. The blankets looked dirty, and when they got in they found an old woman sitting on one of the stools in the corner. She put a new leso on the bed and told Susan to lie on it. She examined Susan and nodded. She asked Susan whether she was sure she wanted the abortion. Susan wasn’t so sure about the hygiene in this place but she knew she didn’t want this body. She nodded. The old lady asked for the rest of the money.
The lady disinfected a coat hanger and inserted it into Susan’s vagina. She pushed it up and keep turning it inside her and Susan felt so much pain. After that Susan was made to sit on top of a bucket for hours. She felt something hot coming down between her legs. She was bleeding and she could see blood running down her legs. The old lady gave her medicine and the lady helped her wear an adult diaper that Susan had been asked to carry. Susan was weak when they left and Shiku bought her something to eat. She was barely able to eat.
When she got home she went straight to her room. She showered, then sat on the floor and cried. She started haemorrhaging at 6 and the blood kept flowing. It refused to stop. She called out to her mum. The last thing she saw before she became unconscious was her white sheets soaked in blood.