Côte d'Ivoire

In Côte d’Ivoire, a young rape victim regains self-confidence with UNICEF support

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Côte d’Ivoire/2011/Monier
Tamira's father, Jean Kadio (not their real names) has been a key person in the girl's well being since the incident and in particular for her to regain her self-confidence.

By Cifora Monier

BOUAKÉ, Côte d’Ivoire, 28 September 2011 – The first day of school should be an exciting time, full of expectancy and hope. Sadly, for young Tamira* it only manages to bring back the horrifying memory of a brutal rape she endured last October, just steps away from her grandmother’s house.

‘My life was over’

After spending two laughter-filled months on summer holiday with her beloved aunt and cousins in Abidjan, Tamira, 16, boarded a bus to return home and start the new school year miles away in Bouaké. As fate would have it, by the time she arrived at the station it was too dark to make the 6 km walk to her house, so she decided it would be safer to pass the night at her grandmother’s.
  
“I was not scared to walk to my grandmother’s house,” she recalled. “Not very far from her place there is a big school.”

As she walked hurriedly on, two security guards who had been standing in front of the school approached her and began to push her around.

“I tried to scream but they put their hands on my mouth and dragged me into the school building,” said a tearful Tamira. “The one man raped me, while the other one kept watch. I don’t know how long it lasted for but for me I knew that my life was over.”

At the hospital

After the ordeal was over, a badly beaten Tamira stumbled outside and found someone to accompany her to the local police station. The policemen called her father very early the next morning.

“I took her to the hospital, there the doctor examined her and confirmed that she had been raped,” recounted Tamira’s father, Jean Kadio*. “As Tamira is a minor, the doctor asked my permission to test her for HIV and carry out a pregnancy test. I gave him permission to carry out both tests.”

Fortunately for Tamira, the results for both examinations came back negative.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Côte d’Ivoire/2011/Monier
"What has happened to me has given me the force to help others,” said the 16-year-old.

“The doctor prescribed medication that was given to us free of charge,” said Mr. Kadio. “I don’t make a lot of money. I have nine children and have to feed them with the little I make.”

A quick response

When the hospital realised that he could not pay for his daughter, they told him to contact UNICEF local partner in Child Protection and HIV/AIDS, OISA (Organisation pour les Droits et la Solidarité  en Afrique). The organisation responded quickly and provided Tamira with a Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) starter kit, antiretroviral treatment and antibiotics for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

“The probability that a woman gets pregnant after having unprotected sex is 25 per cent,” explained UNICEF HIV/AIDS Officer, Dr. Victorine Dilolo. ” The probability of being infected by HIV even if the rapist is zero positive is around one per cent, however, the probability of catching a sexually transmitted disease is 50 per cent.”

For this reason, it is very important that victims of rape are given antibiotics as a preventative measure.

One year later

Since the incident, Tamira has resumed her studies. “At the beginning when I had to start school, it was very difficult for me as I was raped in a school,” she said solemnly. “I felt uncomfortable, insecure and very scared.”

After almost one year following her case, UNICEF Child Protection Specialist Therese Mansan feels Tamira has come a long way, though, more work still needs to be done. “There is still a lot of psychological support she requires and continues to receive,” she said.

Recently, when asked what her hope for the future was, Tamira could not have been more succinct: “My dream is to be a midwife. What has happened to me has given me the force to help others.”

*Both names have been changed to protect their identities.


 

 

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