Relations are supposed to protect each other from harm and abuse. But some of my relatives have acted in the opposite. Twice my cousins tried to rape me, on different occasions of course.
In the first instance, I was staying with my parents in Zimbabwe. I was about seven at that time. A cousin of mine, in his twenties then used to visit us, he was so kind to me. I liked him too. He however took advantage of this and tried to sexually abuse me.
Lucky for me, my mum had warned me of such attempts and so he did not succeed.
Another cousin of mine in Malawi also tried to do the same. He told me cousins can do such kind of things and said it is actually recommended that one should lose her virginity to her cousin to have a successful marriage. He also tried other tricks, but they all failed.
I told him I was only thirteen at that time and did not see the reason I should lose my virginity (even considering what he was saying was true) as if I wanted to get married.
This set me thinking that if relatives could try to harm you in this way, then many more girls, who are not as informed as I was then, are undergoing a lot of abuse at the hands of people who are supposed to protect them.
The third incident, of course coupled with the aforementioned incidences, drove me into journalism. This was when I was waiting for my university entrance examinations. I had a boyfriend to whom I had clearly indicated that I am not ready to engage in sex. He agreed, but he had a hidden agenda.
Someday, he tried to force himself on me, but I managed to escape. I joined journalism with the aim of telling the story of girls being abused. In 2007, I joined Zodiak Radio in Malawi. My first extensive investigation was on girl abuse. This brought to light abuses that men including fathers inflict on their own daughters. It won two awards: investigative and human rights.
When my editor then asked me why I had done the story, I said “ I was nearly a victim too.”
I have continued to fight for the rights of girls and women but it has only been on a national radio in Malawi. The solutions have been limited to the national borders. I still had the desire to extend to an international platform to highlight women and girls’ challenges, a platform that would also offer solutions from afar.
Voices of our Future was the answer. So when I read it on the internet, there was no hesitation. I applied and here I am today, a proud member of the community.
Personally, I had wanted to see the lives of women and girls improve in my country by learning from the global world, this I see happening through world pulse.
Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future Application: Your Journey and Vision.