Rape victim encourages girls, women to speak out

A 14-year-old girl, who was raped by her 75-year-old stepfather, has used the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November, to share a message of hope for other girls who might be experiencing what she went through.

The girl, who was 13 when she was raped, had recently helped to put her stepfather in jail for what he did to her. She spoke to the Samoa Observer in the hope that she could help other girls come forward and stand up against the abuse they are facing.

“I feel relieved and thankful that everything is over,” she said.

"To be honest it was not easy. At times, I felt that life wasn’t worth living anymore. It was hard.”

The victim said she could not believe that someone whom she was supposed to trust would do such a thing to her.

 “I have decided to share a few things on my mind not only from experience but I want others who are suffering to know that there is always hope for them,” she said. “I understand what you are going through, because I was also in your shoes.”

The girl said victims often don’t forgive themselves for what happened.

“When the incident occurred that changed my life so much, I was scared, angry, and hopeless and I was consumed with much sorrows,” she said.

“I admit that my mind was filled with negative thoughts of wanting to end my life.”

But she decided to open up and reach out for help by speaking to her mother.

“Before I told my mother, I was fearful that she might not take my side,” she said. “I was grateful that when I shared with her about what happened, she believed me.”

The young victim also advised other victims to have the courage to speak out, and to confide in people they trust.

 “I believe that if I did not make the choice of speaking out and fighting for what’s right, I would not have survived this ordeal,” she said.

 “It is not easy for a young child to go through such a life-changing ordeal at a very early age, we are children, and we have a right to be protected not attacked whether physically or mentally.

 “I am grateful for the Samoa Victim Support Group for everything they have done for me especially Mama Lina.”

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women was driven by theme: “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!”

The United Nations also launched 16 days of activism that will conclude on 10 December 2020, which is International Human Rights Day.

The aim is to eliminate violence against women and girls, in particular intimate partner violence and domestic violence.

According to the statement issued by the U.N. on the International Day, it states that since the outbreak of COVID-19, emerging data and reports from those on the front lines, have shown that all types of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, has intensified.

 “This is the Shadow Pandemic growing amidst the COVID-19 crisis and we need a global collective effort to stop it,” reads the statement.

It also added that as COVID-19 cases continue to strain health services, essential services, such as domestic violence shelters and helplines, have reached capacity. More needs to be done to prioritize addressing violence against women in COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.

U.N. Women provides up-to-date information and support to vital programmes to fight the Shadow Pandemic of violence against women during COVID-19.

As countries implemented lockdown measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, violence against women, especially domestic violence, intensified – in some countries, calls to helplines have increased five-fold.

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