Picture by OFFSET.
We didn’t expect that these things can happen in Burundi. (This story will shock you but, it was written from the request of the victim and her aim is to inspire other young girls who are in hardships like what she went through to stay strong)
Kantungane* (she asked us to change her name) was born in 1998 in the family of five children. She is the fifth. She doesn’t share the father with the other four children. The reason why she was not well taken care of by her siblings. Even her mother had never loved her anymore or felt affections of her. They used to beat her seriously, to insult her whilst her mother used to tell people that her daughter was stupid. However, she was normal.
After several years of struggles, Kantungane wrote to us to help her publish what she went through. “I’d like to give you my life testimony and maybe, once you are done with your projects you’ve already started, you can write a book about it. Assuredly you would change my names or some elements of the content. I wish I wrote it but, as the years go by, if I take into account what I’m encountering, I’m not able to make it. However, I am sure it may help people in distress or going through hardships like me.”
A hard school life
Kantungane started school like other kids. When she was in the third grade at the primary school, in the area they were living came another religion of protestants called ‘Abakizwa’ in Kirundi. He mother decided to adhere to that new church. “Since I was born, I have never seen her going to church”, reveals Kantungane.
The pastor of that new church was a young boy… (she didn’t like to tag his name). He will have good relationships with Kantungane’s mother until he granted her the post of church advisor. “But they were having bad behaviors apart from church services. “They shared especially prostitution.”
Kantungane still doesn’t know how they negotiated until her mother sent her to sleep with that young pastir. “I was eight. Then, my mother sent me me a small can of water in that boy’s house when it was going to rain. She told me to go to be sleeping there. I slept and I had been waked up by the hurtful pain after being raped. My mother saw blood on my clothes and she washed me. What is sad, she didn’t ask me anything about it. And the boy told me, “If I found you said it, I’ll kill you””, she recalls by shedding tears and sobbing.
She kept quiet because she was so shy. Worst, she had no friends. It continued to happen to her. Whenever she was sent to that gentleman, she used to sleep with her. Terribly, the innocent Kantungane was not aware of the meaning of what she was doing. “I knew it when I was in sixth grade. When I asked neighbor girl how it’s called. She replied that it is “to have sex”.
Kantungane will succeed the sixth grade’s national test. She’s oriented in a boarding Lycée among the firsts in her province. Arriving there, she met her father whom she didn’t ever know. He was working there. “Students laughed at me, but because I didn’t know how he is my family member I kept being strong.”
The young pastor will move to Bujumbura. He got married there. Kantungane met him again when she was in the eighth grade in the secondary school. She was sent to visit him at his home where he told her that “she was his property and that she would not get married with any other husband”.
As she was growing up, Kantunagne tried to approach her mother to explain her how was the family situation so as to get started asking her why she often sends her to that man. Her mother will never answer her for she used to insult and curse her or beat her. She would never have been given clothes, and when claiming, her mother used to cut on her own loincloth. “She did all that to highlight that I was not like other children.”
She started messing up with her life
When she was in nine grade, due to bad friends, she started drinking alcohol and smoking cannabis; “but I smoked it one time”, she says because she was accustomed to smoking tobacco around three years in a hiding thinking that she may live peacefully. “Because I lived a bad life at home, I used to be sent at that man in Bujumbura so that he sleeps with me, and when at school it was not easy because I had no one to tell it.”, she regrets
She continued in a such a terrible life until in in eleventh grade. She will be oriented in Gitega. As usual, she passed in Bujumbura and I went upcountry for schooling. Unfortunately, she fell sick when she arrived there and she was obliged to go back home. Then, in the neighborhood, they thought that she was pregnant and her mother was afraid. “He called the man several times to bring me to hospital for pregnancy test. They found I was not pregnant. But that man told me if they found I was pregnant, they’d abort the baby. It pushed me to revolt because I didn’t understand what kind of monster that man was. To sleep with me, I may understand, but to hear that he may kill his baby in from my womb, it hurts me so much.”
Then Kantungane rebelled against her mother. “I told my mother, now, I’m adult. Make sure that I’ll never go back to that man again. She didn’t ask or reply me anything”, she tells.
Due to the pain and trauma, she had in her heart, she thought about experiencing having sex willingly with a man she wanted without violation. “From then, I started sleeping with different men and mixing with boys and sometimes, I did it to get money to buy clothes like others do, to have money like others and eat well like others, but especially to drink alcohol so that I forget what I went through. But, even in those things, I found no peace. I used to be sorrowful because male people used to see me as a toy of prostitution, and I thought if I do not quit it, there was no pride in it. I finished high school and I started the University. I once tried to look for a boyfriend but I used to find myself in the same angle, all needed only to sleep with me.”
In the first year, Kantungane fell in love with a boy until she changed her behavior. But, like the most nowadays relationships, they used to have sex many times as well as, due to what she was accustomed to, she was not able to control her body. “I used to be so excited. Unfraternally, I got impregnated. In the first three months, he used to take care if me but after, he didn’t help me in anything about the child apart from registering him. I was forced to back to the previous behaviors so that I get to provide my kid with some food, pay a rent and a salary for a babysitter.”
Nevertheless, her sister who had sent her to university continued paying school fees for her until she finishes. After that, she even helped her in the presentation of her studies report. It was good but she was everyday tired of her life. She even tried be christianized but she found herself has done it again because of poverty.
An angel from nowhere saved her
At the end of her university studies, about two months later, Kantungane a got job of 150 thousand Burundian Francs per month. It helped her in some needs but she was working far. After a while, she met a boy and they became friends. “He used to drop me to job for free or sometimes I had to pay if possible. He proposed me to be in love with him and I used to laugh because I could not believe that someone may fall in love with me. But, due to my two problems, I found myself sleeping with him. After few days and I got pregnant again. He didn’t want to betray me. He accepted me and we got registered in the commune. We founded a family and we have a good life now. Even the fact of being so excited is over. I’ve become a normal person and I don’t worry about poverty because I get the one who helps me in everything”, she reveals.
Today, Kantungane praises God because after all that, she got normal life and she got someone who changed her life and who helped me to forget about her bad behaviors she used to have.
When asking Kantungane if her mother is still alive, if they communicate, and why she didn’t file a complaint about her in the court whereas her mother used to insult her she replied: “My mother is still alive and we communicate. And I saw that it was difficult to bring that matter in the the court because she was the one who would help me in the court if it were another person, but because she was the author of all of those matters, it was tough.”
We asked her why she didn’t think of filing a complaint to the court about that man, and she replied “I didn’t think of it because I grew up in it. I once told it to my sister who paid for my studies thinking that she would understand me, and she replied me that the fact that I kept it all the years it is because I enjoyed it. Then I saw that no one could understand me and I thought that to bring it to the court would be strange, that I’d be shaming myself for free, so I stopped it.”
We asked her “as there are organizations which fight for women rights; if they come and tell you they’ll help you to file the complaint in the court, would you accept?” And she replied, “No need of it because I had been healed the physical and spiritual scars. I do not have a problem now. I only want to share this story so that people who will read it will be strong”.
Then, Kantungane told us she wanted to share that testimony so that people who undergo such a problem she encountered, may forget completely those bad behaviors and look for how their life may get another look. And she concludes saying that people in such problems may hope that there is good life. “First of all, I wish they would not follow my paths because anger pushes to do bad things. Secondly, they may forgive people who are doing bad to them, to not feel pity and not bring them in the court. And the third, I recommend them to pray, to be decisive, and after they’ll get what they need.”
As we’ve been saying in the beginning, this story is hurtful.He who wants to talk to Kantungane, or he who may search for her, an organization or an individual, he may write on our email email@example.com and he may tell us the object, he may present himself or he may say if it’s an organization he works for as he would have asked it for.