PLAIN TRUTH: I was not my sister’s keeper - Daily Nation

I failed my school friend when I did not report her rape

Saturday June 9 2018

A rape victim. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA

A rape victim. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JOAN THATIAH
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After allegations of rape at Moi Girls’ School Nairobi surfaced last weekend, I have been following the reactions with a quiet shame. There is nothing new about this incident. These bad things we are hearing about now have always been there – it’s just that social media gives us access to information.

When I was in school, I saw a girl get raped by a teacher. I kept quiet because it didn’t happen to me. This happened at the boarding primary school in Kirinyaga County that I attended in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.

It was run by a couple in their late 40’s at the time. The man was an animal. He preyed on the girls. We all knew this so if you saw him after dark, especially if you were an early bloomer, you should run. If he caught you he would fondle you.

I remember one girl in particular; she was in Standard Seven. He would call her out of class on random evenings and defile.

His wife knew who she married so she would regularly call girls into her office, bribe them with a soda and ask questions about whether you had been ‘touched’ by her husband. Woe unto you if you said yes. You would get the beating of your life time for trying to steal her husband. Then she would pray loudly and call you the devil’s spawn.

ESCAPED UNSCATHED

I was lucky to escape unscathed (at least physically) and when I moved on to high school, I tried to put all of it behind me – unsuccessfully. Every time I hear of news of defilement, my mind goes to this girl. Where is she now? Did she ever get to have even a semblance of a normal life after? Could she have been saved had I spoken out? If she is reading this, I am sorry.

In retrospect, I think this part of my life is what turned me into a feminist. I subconsciously hope that speaking out as much as I can now will redeem me from not speaking out then.

There are parents with children at Moi Girls High School who are today not actively seeking solutions because it wasn’t their child who was attacked. At my old primary school, there were other adults who knew what was happening but who turned a blind eye. I believe that if all of us were a little nosier, if we asked more questions, raised more eye brows and spoke out more on the things we felt were unfair even if they didn’t happen to us, then the injustices around us would significantly die down.

Start caring. Worry about the things that are going on in other lives other than your own. Don’t be so quick to judge the whistle blowers. Do not assume that the person that speaks out for others is seeking some personal gain in return.

People may not listen to you. Others may slap nasty labels on you but at least, you will get to sleep better at night.