By ZBC Reporter
THE case of a 15-year-old girl with hearing impairment who has become a subject of ridicule in her family after being sexually abused by a relative has exposed how society is perpetuating the social ill.
The 15-year-old girl suffered sexual abuse at the hands of her 20 year-old cousin in 2016.
Hers is a story that makes for some sad reading with the teenager having lost hope of getting real justice or at least being heard.
With so much anger and hate bottled inside, her ordeal can only be told by her mother.
My family blames me and my daughter for the failure to protect the family by reporting the matter to the police. When I reported the matter, no one stood by me. My mother keeps pointing fingers at my daughter saying she is a liar because of her disability. The perpetrator does not deny raping her. He and my mother claim that I performed some ritual practices to make the boy rape my own daughter, she said.
Forced to live under the same roof with her abuser who was released from prison in 2019, the teenager has to endure emotional and psychological trauma every day.
What is even more disappointing is that her grandmother blames the victim and her mother for washing the family’s dirty linen in public.
My mother calls my daughter names because of her disability. The fact that we do not have a place of our own makes’ life unbearable. My daughter sometimes tells me that granny really hates her and it pains me that because my mother does not even try to hide her hatred. I cannot even leave my daughter alone at home. I have to make sure when I go out, she is at school or I take her with me wherever am going, she added.
According to experts sexual predators take advantage of people with hearing impairments on the basis of their difficulties in communicating.
When deaf people are abused there is usually a communication breakdown because very few people understand our language. Some people end up not speaking out because they know their abusers won’t be brought to book; Abusers end up winning the case in court because of a lack of people who understand our language in various sectors of the justice system. There is a great need for intensified sign language awareness campaigns, said Patricia Dube, Board Member of the Association of the Deaf and FODPZ.
Sadly victims suffer in silence as most of these sexual predators are usually close relatives with family members reluctant to expose them.