My name is Akello Mary (not real names), I am 15 years old and I live in Gulu District. My parents separated when I was 5 years old so I have only lived with my father for the past 10 years. It was not easy for my father who is physically disabled to properly care for me and my siblings, however he managed to send the five of us to school.
One night during the month of June 2020, I stepped out of the house at around 9:00 pm to ease myself when I heard heavy footsteps approaching me from behind. Suddenly a man grabbed me by the neck, covered my mouth and threatened to kill me if I made any alarm. He dragged me to his hut and forced himself on me. At around midnight, after he had his way with me, this man pushed me out of his hut and ordered me to leave his compound and never to speak a word of this incident.
With the little strength I had left, I walked home in tears, confused, angry and shocked. I knocked on my father’s door and narrated what had happened to me a few hours ago. My father was left helpless and simply asked me to go to bed that he would deal with my issue early in the morning.
The following day, my father and I walked to the home where I was violated because the man was my father’s neighbor. He knocked on that man’s door and he looked panicky when he saw us. We informed his family members about what he done, which he vehemently denied, and they supported him. My father, being outnumbered he decided to visit our area LC I to report the case. The area LC I chairman advised my father to report to the nearest police as it was a criminal offence. We then hired a motorcycle that rode us to the police post where we spoke to a policeman who referred us for medical examination as they arranged to have the perpetrator arrested. At about 6:00 PM of the same day, my abuser was brought to the police station for detention so my father and I went back home in hopes that the justice would be served.
Unfortunately, the very next day and to his shock, my father saw my abuser moving about freely in his compound. When he saw my father, he started to brag about what he had done and threatened to kill us and burn our hut down. Soon after this, the parents of my abuser approached my father with a cash offer of Ugx.2,000,000 (USD546) for him to drop the charges. “I cannot sell my daughter’s freedom for a sum of only (Ugx.2,000,000) two million shillings” I overheard him say to them. “Let him go and face the law”. They then left my father’s compound promising to harm him and myself if we proceeded with the matter.
For almost five months, my father endured endless abuse and threats from the perpetrator and his family. I had to deal with a lot of stigma and trauma from the incident. My father’s physical disability and lack of finances did not make it any easier for us to get a good lawyer to handle the case. Fast forward to October 2020, my father approached the union of persons with disability to seek legal support. From there, he was referred to the ActionAid Gender Based Violence shelter in Gulu where a legal officer took on the case and facilitated the police to re-arrest the perpetrator. I was also taken to the ActionAid shelter for a period of 2 days for counselling and guidance services. While at the shelter, I discovered that I had gotten pregnant from the incident and this placed me further down my state of depression. I could not help but blame myself for my situation and even contemplated getting rid of the unborn baby.
In the month of November 2020, my abuser was finally taken to court and sentenced to Gulu central prison for seven (7) years and this is all thanks to ActionAid.
With several follow up counselling sessions received from AAIU at home and at the shelter, I have been able to overcome my fears of becoming a mother at such a tender age, dealing with social stigma and threats from the perpetrators.”
At the AAIU shelter, we have continued to work together with other referral pathways to ensure that Mary gets all the support needed for safe delivery of her unborn. We are currently facilitating her transport to the hospital for antenatal visits.