I never thought this day would come. I never thought I would never give such a story. But here I am, with an experience I cannot overcome. My name is Abiola and this is my story.
I am a mother of three beautiful children. Two boys and one girl respectively. I am a full time government worker and my husband is a plumber. We moved to a new compound like two years ago with my family. In my compound, there are 13 families who all have children at the same age bracket as mine. My two sons are in a boarding school and my daughter is a day student because she is in primary school. Her school isn’t far from the house. I close work by 3:30pm and get home by 4pm. My daughter closes school by 2pm and walks home. Since I am never home by that time, I appealed to my neighbours to help me watch her, including my landlord who is always home because he is a retiree. About six months ago, I was bathing my daughter and she complained of pains in her private part. I thought the soap I was using was hurting her so I decided to stop using the soap to wash her private part. She didn’t stop complaining; when I finally decide to look at her private part, I noticed it was wide open. I was in shock. I couldn’t believe what my eyes saw. I screamed and shouted till my husband came in, half dressed for work. I told him the revelation I had come across and showed him to look for himself. He saw what I saw but unlike me, he didn’t panic. He didn’t want our daughter to be scared. He took her to the sitting room and asked her who had been playing with her when we were not around. She told us it was the landlord that played with her. She told us that he gives her sweets and after playing with her, he uses a red rag to clean her face. I and my husband were furious. Quite frankly, I blamed myself, I should have noticed this earlier. This was a six year old girl who recently couldn’t control her bladder and sit properly. I saw the signs but I ignored them.
We confronted the landlord with this information which he denied. We went to the police who were kind enough to take us to a nearby hospital to do a check up. Prior to this, there had been rumors in the compound that the landlord had HIV/AIDS. I was praying that that wouldn’t be my daughter’s fate. While seated in the hospital, we notice the landlord talking to the doctor by the side. A few minutes later, the doctor came and gave us the result. He claimed that my daughter only had an infection that antibiotics can cure. When we took the result back to the police station; there they asked my husband if he accepted the outcome of the result. My husband said no and insisted that we do another test. We were referred to a different hospital and there we learnt that my daughter had been repeatedly raped and had contracted HIV.
At this point I was in shambles. I couldn’t believe what my ears heard. My landlord was arrested immediately and he confessed. Two days later, his family came to my house and gifted us with N200,000 to sweep the whole issue under the carpet and forget it ever happened. They were sure to point out to me and my husband that no matter the outcome of this issue, the bitter truth is that my landlord would never be convicted because such cases are considered as family issues in Nigeria.
We didn’t take the money, but I and my husband have to live with this pain. We have to live with the fact that we failed our child. We have to live with the fact that my baby girl would carry this virus forever because of our inability to parent better. We have to live with the fact that our country doesn’t fight for the powerless.
This story was sent in anonymously through our volunteer, Munyale.