Pedophilia and sodomy in Kenya

The pain comes rushing back whenever he recalls that terrible incident, 16 years ago. PHOTOS I Tom MARUKO

He was only eight years old when someone he knew waylaid him on his way home from school, and sodomised him. This is the first time he is talking about this traumatic incident

Posted on August 2, 2011 by Nation Media

He’s angry, angry because someone who should have protected him turned out to be the person to brutally take his innocence away.

John Mwenda was just eight years old when he was sodomised by a man old enough to be his father. For 16 years, this 24 year old man has kept this horrible secret to himself, shackled by shame, embarrassment, and fear of how people might treat him, should he speak out. This is the first time that Mwenda is talking about what happened to him all those years ago.

The physical scars healed a long time ago, but the emotional and psychological ones still torture him. He hopes that by talking about it, he will finally discover the path towards healing, but more importantly, encourage other young men like him, and boys that are too scared to reveal the men that violate them, to speak out.

Here is his story.

“I was on my way home from school. The school I went to was several kilometers away, and many of the children I went to school with were from neighbourhood – only a few of us would take the long walk home, athough I would walk the last one kilometer or so alone, since my home was further away.

It was on a Friday when it happened. I remember because I was looking forward to the weekend, since I wouldn’t go to school. I was in class three. As I walked through the familiar path that would lead me home, a man I knew approached me. I often saw him in my village, so I knew him.

I come from Tharaka district, in Meru. He greeted me, and then asked me where I went to school, and other questions that I don’t really recall.

It was not until he pulled down my shorts that I knew he was about to do something very bad to me. I tried to scream, but he covered my mouth with one of his hands. He was too strong, so I couldn’t fight back.

When he was done, he zipped his trousers. Before he left, he threatened to beat me up, and then strangle me if I ever told anyone what he had done.

I waited until his footsteps faded away, and then I pulled up my shorts. The pain was so excruciating, I have no idea how I was able to get back home.

I have lived with my grandmother all my life. My mother remarried after having me, and left my grandmother to raise me. When I arrived home, she took one look at me and asked me whether I was unwell. I wanted to tell her what had happened, but I did not know how to explain what had happened to me.

How does an eight year old find the words to explain rape, or in my case, sodomy? I told her that I was just feeling unwell, and for the next one week, I stayed at home. My grandmother has no idea what happened to me.

The urge to answer nature’s call meant severe pain, which would make me feel sick. For almost a month, I would bleed every time I went for a long call, so I would avoid to for as long as I could bear it.

I became withdrawn, and would have recurrent nightmares. Even at that young age, I wondered why someone, someone I knew, would want to do that to me.

What had I done to him? I would ask in my innocence. Did this man think that I was too young to understand what he did to me, or too young to feel the pain? The questions were painful, and endless, and of course, I had no answer to any of them.

As I grew up, I realised that almost every time I watched television, there would be stories of girls and women who had been raped, and this would make me angry. I could not understand why adults would want to harm children they should be protecting, this way.

But this is not what pained me most. The fact that I was a living case that boys are also sexually abused was enough to bring tears to my eyes. I wondered why everyone dwelt on girls and women, yet there were boys and probably men like me, who had also been sexually abused.

At some point, I even thought that I was the only boy who had ever gone through such an experience, since for a very long time, I never heard of a boy that had gone through a similar experience.

I was dying to let the world know what had happened to me, and when I turned 13, I wrote a song based on my experience. I wanted to tell everyone what that rapist had done to me, and to verbally attack men who sexually molest children.

Unfortunately, I could not afford to record my song, though I plan to one day, when I get the money. My grandmother was unable to educate me past primary school, therefore after I did my KCPE examinations, I worked as a herd’s boy for a year. Later, I left the job to help out my grandmother in her farm.

A few years ago, I came to Nairobi, and put up with the son of the man who had employed me as a herds boy, as I looked for a job. This is when I gathered the courage to seek medical attention, which was more than 10 years too late. I also tested for HIV, and was relieved to find out that I was HIV-negative.

Thankfully, I have no hang-ups when it comes to opposite sex relationships. In fact, I feel more comfortable with women, and have several who I can describe as close friends. I have had relationships – my previous one lasted about three years, though we later differed and agreed to part ways.

One day, I hope to be a responsible husband and father. I work in a bakery in Kayole, and though I don’t earn much, I am able to pay my share of rent, since I live with a relative, and get enough for food. I know that this is just a stepping stone to a better life.

All you have to do is read the newspapers and watch television to get an idea of how serious and common sexual abuse of children is in our society.

The alarming fact is that this crime is being committed by adults, grown-ups that should be protecting these children – instead, they are the ones robbing them off their innocence, self-esteem, even destroying their future. Not a week goes by without a tear-jerking story of defilement and rape.

It might be too late for me to do anything about what happened to me, but I pray that by sharing my experience, young people, and specifically boys who have gone through a similar experience, will be encouraged to speak up, and name their violators.

Unless they pay for their crimes, others like them will only be emboldened to continue with their beastly acts.

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