Rijuta is 16 years old. She used to live happily with her family; they were poor, but happy. “I was a good girl. I did well in school.”
A man raped me a year ago. It was not by some stranger but from my best friend’s husband (27 years old), whom I think as my own brother. “Trust is a dirty word for me.” When I was raped I did not know what to do, and it affected me emotionally and academically. I lost a lot of things: my choice, my esteem, and my voice. I was not only raped once but more than 15 times in a year and was threatened by death if I told anyone about the incident. I cried and was broken but unable to name what I had been done to me. I don’t feel anything but I was wondering why my periods are so late. When I told my aunt about this she took me to the hospital and could see my belly was growing out. Then after ultrasound, it was confirmed that I was 4 months pregnant. Everything looked the same, but I felt so different. The shame, the fear, and the dirtiness I felt on the inside – no one was able to see and sense my pain. “Why didn’t I stop him? Why did not I tell anyone?” Many questions haunted me within myself, but what has helped me heal has been getting my voice back and telling everything to my aunt.
Many people in villages still protect family members who commit sexual assault, in fear of separating families. The victims are left to suffer in silence. When I informed the guy that I was pregnant, he disappeared. When my family informed the guy’s family, they blamed me. Lastly, we filed a case against him and now he is in prison for 7 years.
After all the legal procedures, it was late for me to abort the child; also I was just 15 years old and there was a risk for me to abort the child. The district police office referred me to The Voice of Fetus Nepal. I stayed there for 3 months during my pregnancy. When I came to that organization I was 6 month’s pregnant. I knew it was not my fault but I was a victim. And I decided to give birth to my child. I went through C-section for delivery. Everyone cared for me during my pregnancy. I didn’t want to give up my baby for adoption, but I am also a child and I could not support to raise my child. So I decided to put my baby up for adoption.
It was quite a hard time for me to let him go for adoption. I cried a lot and now I am happy; I want my son to live an amazing life. I don’t want to go back; it hurts me a lot. I remember those things. My friend told me about the safe house; I want to heal myself and continue my studies. I don’t want any girl to ever go through what I went through, but unfortunately this happens every day. I want to live an independent life so that I can help girls like me. I just wish it never happens to anyone. Now I am happy to stay here; everyone loves me a lot, takes care for me, and I have many friends here.
Rijuta means "innocence." Pray that this young girl's innocence will be restored.