They robbed me of a childhood but not my dreams!

Musenge Musomali
Posted March 2, 2018 from Zambia
During 16 days of Activism against gender based violence

 

Every woman deserves a safe and abuse free environment. An environment where she's free to express herself and free to be the woman she wants to be.

Sadly, this is not the case in many countries and my country, Zambia is no exception. My country has a rich culture that promotes peace and harmony but the same culture promotes the abuse of women and girls. It strips them of their ability to develop as individuals by limiting many of their rights.

Girls are forced into marriages, denied an education, denied basic health needs and silenced concerning important matters to do with their well-being. Men hold the power in a marriage and make all the decisions without fully consulting a woman. Clearly there is no gender equity and a woman is less valued or given equal opportunities.

A Zambian woman is prone to all forms of abuse because cultural and traditional norms detect how she should conduct herself in society even if it infringes on her rights as a human being.

I grew up in a traditional home and my freedoms as a little girl were limited in many ways. I was not able to express myself fully and my opinions did not count. Because of my failure to express myself I was sexually molested by my two elder brothers from the age of seven to fourteen.

I did not know how to express myself because I was not taught how to. I suffered in silence for many years. I was robbed of my childhood and innocence as a child.

My story is similar to that of many girl children in my country. The number of child defilement cases have risen over the years and more than 6,000 girls have been abused since 2012. As we are about to celebrate International Women's Day I have joined millions of women from around the world to expose and speak against the ugly tales of sexual exploitation of women , girls and children.

We have a right to make decisions concerning our own sexuality. We have the right to say no to any form of sexual exploitation and abuse. We have the right to be heard. I was threatened and told no one would believe me if I revealed that I was being sexually molested. We have the right to express ourselves too.

The sexual abuse took away my ability to be confident, I had low self esteem and developed deep hatred for myself for many years. I blamed myself for what I had been through and I saw myself as a worthless woman who would never add up to anything.

Despite all the hardships and pain I had been through, I chose to rise up and refused to remain defeated. I chose to be a voice for the voiceless , I chose to stand up for those who were not able to stand up for themselves. I chose to be bold and confident because I did not want my abusers and tormentors to win.

I'm glad that I'm helping to change the lives of women ang girls who are from similar backgrounds and also glad that I'm reaching out to school boys and girls as well as having dialogues with young people to instill in them positive values so that they can become better citizens who are aware of the importance of respecting human rights and being drivers of social change.

My plea is that all forms of violence against women and girls should stop because women and girls deserve protection from harm and deserve much more than what the world gives.

Let's us speak out and let the world know that we will no longer look away but take action by raising our voices until we break the silence on violence against women and girls !!

This post was submitted in response to You Are a Silence Breaker..

Comments 18

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  • Olutosin
    Mar 02
    Mar 02

    Thanks so much for sharing your story with us. The story is not different from what is happening in Nigeria as I write now.

    My dearest sister, my joy always know no bound when I read stories and articles about women who are speaking out. We refuse to be silent. I am screaming in my spirit as I write

  • Musenge Musomali
    Mar 02
    Mar 02

    Thank you Olutosin,  i am glad to share my story knowing it will help someone our there.  

    No more silence!

  • Olutosin
    Mar 02
    Mar 02

    Gone are the days when women used to die in silent . Enough of dumbness. Away with fear, we shall climb on mountains to speak boldly, we will reveal all the hidden secrets and shame the perpetrators. Enough of blaming women and girls. Justice we want and together we shall be stronger. Together we shall demand justice and we shall ensure that perpetrators are punished to serve as deterrent to others. Meanwhile, we will continue to protect our daughters, to be their best friend, to believe them and to build strong girls. Amen.

  • Musenge Musomali
    Mar 02
    Mar 02

    Thank you Olutosin, it is very sad to hear of women and girls being violated. I have been following the issue of Nigerian girls who were recently taken and my heart goes to them and their families.  Women and girls deserve safe and abuse free environment but that is not the case world over and our only way to be heard is if we speak out.  You are right enough of silence! 

  • MagiOriah
    Mar 02
    Mar 02

    I so honor your voice in sharing your journey.  Thank you for speaking up and choosing to be bold and confident.

  • Musenge Musomali
    Mar 02
    Mar 02

    Thank you MagiOriah for your encouragement. 

  • Hadebe16
    Mar 03
    Mar 03

    Dear LIHEF

    Thank you for your bravery sharing telling your life story it means a lot to all other girls women who are suffering silently  May they take courage and strength from you to tell on they abuse and lift a load off their lives and May you grow stronger each day sister!!

  • Musenge Musomali
    Mar 03
    Mar 03

    Thank you for your words of encouragement and motivation. I am glad to be a voice for the many women and girls who are going through traumatic experiences and those who have been through similar experiences. 

  • My dear sister thank you for being brave and raising your voice.  Your voice represents millions of people around the world and you have no idea the impact your story is creating. You have become a much courageous woman and with that courage you are more fierce and nothing can stand in your way. You will be forever blessed and an iron lady. 

    Stay blessed my dear sister. 

  • Musenge Musomali
    Mar 05
    Mar 05

    Thank you sister Mrs Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi. I am ever thankful for all the words of encouragement and support from prolific women like yourself. Thank you. 

  • Sophie Ngassa
    Mar 05
    Mar 05

    Dear sis, Reading your story I could feel a strong drive to end discrimination against women. You are a silence breaker ! Move on and do some great things that will be celebrated.

    Happy Women's Day!

  • Musenge Musomali
    Mar 05
    Mar 05

    Thank you my sister Sophie. We all have a role to play. Yes my sister I am running an organization which helps women and girls who have been through incest and childhood sexual abuse.

  • Evelyn Fonkem
    Mar 06
    Mar 06

    Thanks sister for sharing your story.Despite the fact that you went through many obstacles due to your gender,I am happy you were able to stand tall.You are a stron woman.keep impacting lives

  • Musenge Musomali
    Mar 10
    Mar 10

    Thank you Evelyn for the words of encouragement.

  • Hello, Musenge,

    It is to woman like you that I wrote this piece. I dedicate this to you and the rest of your sisters who survive sexual abuse: https://www.worldpulse.com/en/community/users/karen-axalan/posts/83891

    You are an inspiration. Continue to raise awareness and to touch lives. May you expand into larger territories and find every girl who seeks comfort, love and justice.

    Thank you for sharing your story!

  • Musenge Musomali
    Mar 10
    Mar 10

    Thank you Karen for your words of encouragement and support. I'm glad to share and hope it helps someone.

    Thanks for sharing the article, I will read it.

  • bridggyella
    Mar 28
    Mar 28

    Hi Musenge,
    You are a brave woman. Our voices need to be heard because the silence must break. Thank you for sharing. Keep the good work.

    Cheers!
    Bridggyella

  • Musenge Musomali
    May 06
    May 06

    Thank you very much my sister Bridggyella.