I Got My Dignity Back: Testimony of A4J2E, An Adopted Daughter of 15 Years Old
Originally published on Rights & Realities blog
The FCI Program of Management Sciences for Health, with support from the Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) Humanitarian Sub-cluster (funded by UNFPA), works with trained village focal points to refer SGBV survivors from 59 villages in Mopti to free medical and psychosocial services at 9 referral hospitals and pharmacies. A 15-year-old client of services, and survivor of familial rape, tells her story. This is her account as told to Adama Sanogo/FCI Program of MSH.
I’m originally from the Mopti region of central Mali. I am fifteen years old and my uncle adopted me when I was five. I lived in harmony as part of the family until the day my cousin slipped under my mosquito net and raped me. I couldn’t say anything; no one would believe me. Months later, the pregnancy began to show. Still not knowing how to tell my adoptive parents, I kept quiet about who was behind the pregnancy.
One afternoon, in front of the whole family, I announced that my cousin had caused my pregnancy. His mother was angry; she slapped me and treated me as a liar and a prostitute. Nobody believed my claims, and I have been ridiculed and stigmatized in the family and in the neighborhood for months.
One day, a neighbor told me about MSH in Mopti and the services it offers. An MSH officer (case manager) met me, received me with honor, giving me confidence in myself. I had a hard time telling her what happened, given the sensitivity and the fact that people thought I was lying. She responded:
“I understand you. We are going to find a solution. What happened to you is not your fault. We have a package of services to offer you, if you want.”
After the interview, she referred me to the health center where I benefitted from an ultrasound, prenatal consultation, and medical follow-up until my delivery – which was difficult – on April 7, 2017. MSH covered all the fees. I also benefitted from psychological support and from the advice of the MSH officer, who is helping me cope with the social pressure to this day.
Nobody supports me, not even my adopted parents or my rapist who has always denied his crime. The child carries the name of the MSH case manager. I greatly appreciate the services that MSH provided me, without which I might have died.
Many thanks to all the staff at MSH, and particularly to the case manager who helped me from the very first day. Thanks to her, I realized that there are still people of good faith in the world. Now I need support in income-generating activities in order to be independent. I got my personhood and my dignity back. I will continue to tell other people in my community about the services and benefits of MSH. I am ready to get involved and support activities in the fight against gender-based violence.