Silent Fights

J Brenda Lanyero
Posted October 5, 2020 from Uganda

Dear Anyaka Laber (not real name). I know you need support in holding yourself high. In this way, you will know that you are more precious than the biscuits and sweets of 1000/= given to you by the boys and men in the neighborhood. I am saying this because I have seen most girls in the community take the "gifts" from those boys and men  who have even got over two to five wives with at least two children each. After you have accepted these "gifts", once or twice, you will have to "pay" for them and this means throwing away your future and once he is done with you, he will leave and go after another girl and this means you have to take care of yourself and the baby once it arrives and so you will not be able to leave the "marriage" simply because your people will ask you to be submissive and stay at your home and take care of your children.

I remember when I was about 11 years, we were taken back to the village from town for Easter holiday. On Sunday night, a daughter of a neighbor a little older than me came to the hut, our cooking place and said I should go with her to see something. I looked her in the eyes and said no but she pleaded and so, we left together some three blocks away from our home. We found some teenage boys from the neighborhood and we sat next to them as they drunk arege  and this girl asked me to sip a little but I declined.  All the boys left one by one until only one was left and this "friend" of mine asked me to go with her inside the house and see something, we entered but she just proceeded and went out through the front door and as I was rushing to follow her, this one teenage boy grabbed me and we struggled till I over powered him and ran through the front door. I ran back home and found mother right there in the middle of the hut and asked where I was coming from and I told her from the neighbor's. I sat down and remembered the military biscuits, corned beef and some pocket change I rejected two days ago from this "friend" who almost made the boy to rape me. I figured out that she lied to the boy that I accepted the "gifts" and so he wanted me to "pay" before going back to school the following day.

So, as a sister and an excellent girl at school, I now speak to you as a mother, teacher, aunt and a dear sister. I want you to know you are very beautiful and so, you are very important and that no man can ever give you that importance if you don not give it to yourself by finishing school first and other things. Mother never talked to me about boys and things they do to girls to ruin their future. But I always wanted to be like her because she was educated, always smart and smelling nice and a source of knowledge to those around especially the women. She was respected as she offered counsel to the women. Also I saw once some boys and girls being punished for engaging in sexual games and so I never wanted to go through that shame.

These boys and men are always on the look out for girls especially those in schools like you Laber. So, you need to know the dangers of engaging such relationships at an early age so that you can teach other girls about it. I also want you to know that poor diet/feeding at home is not a death sentence because in the future, you will feed well and eat anything you want any day. I heard and interacted with a few girls in the community especially those who dropped out of school because of pregnancy and they almost all say, "he used to give me chapati for 200/= everyday". Or, " he used to buy me eats" and these eats never buy back their precious future when they become pregnant or catch diseases. Even at University, some of those mean men are there, they are married or sick but want to go down the grave with you. You are more precious than being an escort to some man to his grave. Remember this all the time.

I want you to also know that some of these boys will stop asking politely and use force instead. But always remember that you are stronger with God on your side. I also remember from the time I was in primary to lower secondary, boys would wait outside and on several occasions as the house was in an open place and a route leading to the market. I had to fight and bite a few of them so that I could free myself and run back inside the house.

These boys and men will always be there but you should know better and pray that your parents are not too hard that they always blame you instead which can make you develop fear to report about such just as I could not tell anyone in the house what was happening to me with these men and fought them silently. Like one morning, I went to the well to wash a doormat and there way a boy many years older than me. He tried to kiss me and I slapped him hard on the face and he punched me.  I went back home with a swollen face but I could not tell anyone what happened. These attacks were worse during nights when sent either to go and buy kerosene, airtime, or pills and other items as one night I came and reached beside the house and this man just scooped me. I poked his eyes and pulled his ears till he dropped me and I ran back to the road where a car almost hit me but I was glad I escaped.

I had physical pains and I was psychologically sick but I recovered though the scares are still deep. The silent battle aided me for I was never scolded and a future I got. For I can now choose a man I want. So, your future is more important than those men who present you with money and ice cream which last utmost a month and vanishes once he gets a hold of you. You are bright, beautiful, precious and wonderfully made. Remember that always.

This story was submitted in response to My Voice, Our Equal Future.

Comments 6

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Nini Mappo
Oct 06
Oct 06

Beautiful, educational letter J Brenda. I'm sorry that you went through all that, but good to see your skill in keeping yourself safe and even overpowering men, I had to laugh at poking eyes and pulling ears, although that would have been terrifying.
Well done for being smart enough and brave enough to 'read' these boys, and now mentor young girls to avoid the pitfalls and not sell their future for a packet of biscuits.
I hope that you reach many girls in your community with this vital message.
Good on you for caring, always :)

J Brenda Lanyero
Oct 06
Oct 06

Hello Nini.
Thank you for reading. I am glad I never gave up and I can not say it was my own strength but God though It was really tough for me. I remember one time I was sent to go and fetch water about 15 mins walk away. It was at about 1:00 in the night and I found a group of boys, six of them and they stopped me and asked why I was going to fetch water that late and I lied to them that we just returned from a journey. The second one asked if I had a boyfriend and I said no and they asked me so many silly questions which I didn't know answers to as I was just in primary. To cut the story short, they let me go but as I was coming out of the water, they were all there standing and waiting for me, eeeh! I almost fainted but they only asked to help me carry the water home which I accepted but lied about home because I didn't want trouble the next day. I ran through bushes till home and walk back the next day only to see how I even missed the old pit latrines, holes, broken bottles, etc. I cried, not because I was sent to go fetch water at that time of the night or saw those boys but because I was so happy that amidst all that, I was safe without a single scratch.

So, these girls have to know that all those hardships are not fun and funny but with time, they will be what they will fall in love with and even thank those who treated them that way.

Thank God for the protection. I surely can relate to the fear and chills being outside the streets at the wee hours of the night. You're a smart girl then and even a smarter woman now. Thank you for sharing with us your story. May the girls take away lessons from your experience. :)

J Brenda Lanyero
Oct 30
Oct 30

Thank you so much Karen for this. It made me different. But I thank god for the protection.

Hello, JB,

This is such a loving letter to "Anyaka Laber". What you wrote here is life lessons for young girls. "Food" in exchange for sex or even rape is horrible. It's heartbreaking really. Have you considered submitting this post to publishers in your country? Newspapers, magazines, or another call for contributions? I hope every girl read this so they will know they have a choice to say no to those "tricks" by boys wanting to take advantage of them.

Kudos to you for being vigilant as a girl. Thank you for sharing your story with us! Please keep on writing!

J Brenda Lanyero
Oct 30
Oct 30

Hello Karen.
Thank you so much for reading through. I haven't submitted it anywhere else except here. I will try to see it can be accepted elsewhere :)