Two-time rape victim infected with HIV, forced to marry rapist

Monday July 15 2019

Although she is she is already on HIV

Although she is she is already on HIV treatment, Draru says sometimes she gets angry and abandons the drugs 

By URN

Jane Draru (not real names) seats on the verandah of her grass thatched house in Kopu village in Ayipe Sub County in Koboko District folding her hands on her chest. She celebrated her 18th birthday early this month. Draru, who seems lost in a state of despair was raped twice in a space of four years, impregnated and infected with HIV.    

“I don’t know what to tell you. I wait for a time when I will also die. After all, even my child has died,” she narrates.  Draru was first raped in March 2015 as she returned from Ayipe Trading Centre around 8pm.    

She was confronted by a man whom she knew as a family friend. “He wrestled me down and then raped me. I reported to my parents but I was blamed for it. They said I had wanted to have sex with him,” she says. Draru decided to keep quiet because her family chose to blame her.     

Six months later, Draru escorted her friend to a health facility. While there, a health worker discussed the advantages of knowing one’s health status.  She was hesitant to test because people had told her that the person who had raped her was already on HIV treatment.

She feared knowing her status but nevertheless, her friend encouraged her to test and the results confirmed her suspicion. Draru rushed home and shared the test results with her parents.   

However, the suspect’s family said they were not aware and there was no proof that their son had actually raped her. “I decided that I would look for this man and do something to him. But I was informed that he left this place and I have never seen him again,” Draru said.

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At the time of the first incident, Draru was a Primary Four pupil at Ayipe Primary School.  She immediately stopped going to school thinking that she would die soon.  Draru started operating a food joint to earn a living. She could wake up as early as 5am and return home past 9m.       

However, bad luck struck again as she was raped for the second time in June 2018. The rapist waylaid her on her way home about 15 minutes to 10pm. 

Unlike the previous time, she couldn’t identify the rapist. She only managed to identify the rapist with the help of her neighbours after describing how he was dressed.       

“I went to report to the chairman but the suspect fled before he could be arrested. I have never seen him since then,” Draru said. According to Draru, she could have chopped the rapist into pieces had she got chance to pounce on him.     

Forced marriage

Since her neighbours had identified the second rapist, her parents held a meeting with his family. The two families agreed to settle the matters amicably. A month later, Draru missed her periods. She tested for pregnancy and the results were positive.     

The parents asked her whether the pregnancy was as a result of the second rape or it was someone else.  “I told them I had not engaged in any sexual activity except when I was raped. They took me to the man [rapist]’s home and his parents accepted to take care of me. I started living with them until I gave birth,” she said.      

Her child was born weak. Draru didn’t have money to take her baby to better health facilities. However, in both incidents she didn’t report to police because she was never supported by her parents.  

No justice

“I wish my rapists could be arrested and killed. I would be happy if they are arrested. They raped me and ran away. I am now suffering with HIV. They are enjoying life,” Draru said.     

Although she is already on HIV treatment, Draru says sometimes she gets angry and abandons the drugs. She says she sees no reason for taking the drugs since she could die any time. She says her child could have survived to give her a reason for living.   

Draru is part of the 47,746 girls defiled in the last three years, according to the Police Annual Crimes records of 2016, 2017 and 2018. This translates into 15,915 girls defiled every months and 43 on a daily basis.

Police statistics show 201 girls were defiled by people living with HIV in 2018, 115 were defiled by guardians, ninety-five pupils by their teachers, 90 secondary school students by teachers, 90 girls with disabilities were defiled and 84 girls by their biological parents.      

Activists speak out

Child rights defenders such as Reach a Hand Uganda (RAHU), Centre for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) and Partner in Community Transformation (Picot) put the blame on lack of comprehensive policies on Sexuality, Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) that would empower girls with appropriate information on how to deal with sexual advances.

Maureen Andinda, the RAHU’s strategy and business development manager, reasons that absence of clear policies regarding the approach and response to young people's sexual reproductive health challenges creates an environment where inaccurate, mythical and downright wrong information sharing thrives.

Andinda says young people listen to wrong information and base on it to make their reproductive health choices without guidance therefore young people are not able to stand up for themselves against vices such as sexual harassment, abuse or peer influence.

“Inadequate response to these occurrences contribute to a lot of the reproductive health indicators that remain unacceptably high for example; the ever increasing cases of teenage pregnancy and HIV prevalence amongst young people,” Andinda said.     

Citing West Nile region, Ms Lydia Ceyo, the Picot’s project manager says there is need for a detailed approach to address SRHR in solving problems faced by girls such as  Draru. 

She believes if Draru had been empowered, she would have thought of post-exposure prophylaxis (Pep) soon after she had been raped and it could have probably prevented her from getting HIV.     

“For instance, in this region (West Nile), many parents do not believe that a girl can be defiled or raped. This is why they often force victims to get married to their rapists. I have intervened in numerous cases where raped girls are being forced to get married to their rapist,” Ceyo says.  

Joy Asasira, CEHURD’s research and documentation manager, says the problem lies in the response of different stakeholders that are tasked with ensuring that young people have access to information and services. Asasira insists that equipping children with SRHR information would be pivotal in making informed choices, especially as they relate to their sexuality.  

“From the smallest unit to the larger institutions like schools and churches, young people are being encouraged to abstain, maintain moral turpitude, but that is not enough. Young people need more information about how to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexual violence,” Asasira explains.  

Ismael Mulindwa, the Education Ministry’s Policy Analyst, believes all child rights queries are answered by the National Sexuality Education Frame (NSEFW) launched by First Lady and Minister for Education, Janet Museveni. Mulindwa refers Andinda, Ceyo and Asasira to NSEFW’s objectives that he says summarize issues of child marriages and teenage pregnancies.

Sheikh Juma Muhammad Chuchu, the Education Secretary Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC), says religious leaders are not against efforts by the Education ministry to address SRHR.  Chuchu says as clerics they have issues on the content that that they intend to give the children given their age.

“We are saying that they should involve us from the start so that we can advise them on how to package information for children. You cannot teach relationships to children of three years and we just look on. We can’t accept that,” Chuchu said.

The Education ministry’s list of activities to be done once implementation is enrolled out include teaching children of 3 to5 years old sexuality and human development, sexuality and relationships, sexuality and sexual behaviour, sexuality and sexual health.

Records from the Criminal Investigation Directorate show that more than 25000 cases have been dismissed by court for lack of substantive evidence in the last four years. Majority of the cases rotate around sexual offences.

“There are a number of factors for cases to be dismissed. Sometimes complainants lose interest in cases and this is very true in cases of sexual offenses. Victims fail to report to court because suspects compromise them and when you summon them to report to court, they don’t turn up, later on the cases are dismissed,” CID Director Grace Akullo says.

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