When I tell people that my parents have turned me into a sex slave yet I cannot report them to the police, they think it is a bad joke, but it is not. My name is Grace* and I am 18.
I live with my parents at Kyakagusa village, Kichwamba Sub-county in Kabarole District. Since my Primary Seven, my parents have made me earn my school fees by offering sex services to a 60-year-old rich man. That was five years ago.
The man (the defiler) is a family friend who used to pay visits to my parents when I was still young. We actually used to call him uncle, that is until 2009.
How it all started
One night, my parents asked me to escort him up to his home, which was half a kilometre away from our home.
It was strange because he drives, but I did not want to be disrespectful so I went with him. But when we reached his home, he drove past it and continued to Fort Portal Town, about 14km away.
He lied that we were going to visit a sick relative at the hospital before coming back. When we reached the town, he parked at one of the lodges along Malibo Road.
I asked the man why he was stopping at the lodge instead of the hospital, and that is when he said his patient was spending a night in one of the rooms.
I believed him and when he told me to follow him I did not think it was a trick. I only realised that when we entered the room and he locked it before defiling me.
I wanted to raise an alarm but the man warned me against it because he and my parents had agreement. He said my parents had received a lot of money from him and I had to repay it in instalments.
I could not believe that my parents had sold me just like that. He gave me something small wrapped in a paper, it resembled a white stone.
Before I could even ask what it was, he forced it in my mouth and ordered me to swallow it. He said if I ever rejected him, I would die.
He ordered me out of the room and said he needed to take me back home. He did not say anything on the way back.
When I reached the doorway, my father was shocked to see me. He said he had expected me to spend the whole night away.
And that is how the cycle of repaying the never ending debt began.
I started weaving mats for sale but my parents discouraged me claiming there was someone willing to pay my school fees until I completed Senior Four, so I did not have to “do anything”.
Visiting lodges became routine until when he started coming home to have sex. My parents would walk out and let this man to defile me in our own home.
Whenever I tried to protest, my parents would remind me that the man was “giving us” a lot of money.
In 2011, when I joined Senior One, my parents rented for me a small room in the neighbouring village. The old man turned this into his other home where he would come at will to have sex and provide what I did not have.
When I tried to complain about the man’s visits to my parents, they instead told me to stop being stupid so as not to “spoil my future”. When I was in Senior Two, I became pregnant and he hurriedly organised for an abortion because his image would be tarnished as he already had two wives.
I have so many questions that my parents are yet to answer. How much were they being paid that they were willing to sacrifice my life? Why didn’t they allow me to do casual jobs to raise school fees?
When I told them that I was going to report the matter to the authorities, my father said he would kill me.
With no support from my parents, I shared my plight with friends last year, but there was little they could do to help. The man did not want to see me with any male friends.
I remember when he once came to my room only to find me discussing school work with friends who included boys. He made a fuss and threatened to stop paying my school fees.
Freedom that never was
I thought he was joking, but he was not because this year he stopped paying my fees yet I was in a candidate class.
Although I was sad, I was happy at the same time because I knew there were no more sex demands. The funny thing is even when he cut back on his financial support, the sex has not stopped.
He comes during the day and when he does, my mother carries a jerry can pretending to go to the well while my father goes to the nearest trading centre, so this man can have his way with me.
What shocks me is when he is done, he calls my dad on phone to “come back home” because he is done.
With nothing to lose, I told the man I was going to tell his wives. He said if I dared, he would kill me and the look on his face showed he was serious.
I regret breaking up with the boy I loved because my parents had him arrested and fined Shs110,000.
Although he was a boda boda rider, I knew that he liked me and he was in my age-group. My parents prefer the old man because he has big shops in Fort Portal, Bundibugyo and Kampala and he also drives a Range Rover.
They overlook his age because of his wealth. They do not realise that he does not have good intentions.
Right now, I am in dilemma because if I report the matter to police, my parents might be arrested yet they are old and could easily die in prison and then my siblings will suffer.
effects of child abuse
Cycle. Abused children become victims for the rest of their lives. “They grow up to become child abusers themselves,” Ida Kanywamusai, the director Vision for Teachers, explains, adding that hurting people hurt others.
Relationships. These children develop fear and resentment towards adults, including their own parents, losing the idea of love and trust. They alienate themselves from parents, guardians and the rest of the family and usually choose to suffer in silent seclusion.
Child abuse hampers psychological development, which results into low self-esteem and inability to behave normally.
Also, stunted growth, mental retardation, disability and acquisition of diseases, are results of child neglect and abuse. These children lack problem-solving skills even as adults; they are unsocial, inactive and emotionally unstable.
The victim’s name has been changed to protect her identity.