Nine-year-old Miriam* lived with her mother and brother, separately from the children’s father, and was studying in grade four at school. The two children nagged their mother to let them see their father and eventually she relented and let the siblings go and stay with him for a few days. It turned out to be a grave mistake. While they were all sleeping on the floor in the same room, Miriam’s father took the girl into his bed and sexually abused her three times over three days. Traumatized, bleeding and in terrible pain, Miriam ran away from the house and was found on the streets by a woman she knew. The woman was friends with one of Railway Children’s foster parents, a network of people who care for children found on the streets in their own homes, so she went to her for advice. Having good contacts with social services and the authorities, this woman helped Miriam and put her in touch with our team at the Cheka Sana Centre in Mwanza.
She received immediate medical care and was encouraged to help the police bring her father to justice. Our team of legal representatives supported her to do this at the police station and her father was arrested. We worked with Miriam’s mother and brother to strengthen the family unit but once the father was arrested the family suffered threats and abuse from his family. In fear that they would retaliate it was decided that Miriam’s brother would also be safest staying at the Cheka Sane Centre until the case had been through the courts. As it progressed Miriam, her mother, her brother and the doctor that examined and treated her all gave compelling evidence and eventually her father was found guilty. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.
His family still pose a threat to Miriam and her family, so we are working with them to secure a new place to live, in a different area, near to the school both children attend. We meet with the family weekly to carry out therapeutic work – helping them process the trauma they have experienced and teaching Miriam’s mother the importance of making sure her children are safe at all times. Thanks to the support of our legal experts, the case was able to progress quickly and the judgment secured was fitting to the abuse. Knowing her father has been sent away, Miriam now feels safe and is responding well to the counselling we are making sure she receives. Once her mother has moved house we are looking forward to reuniting her with her two children, knowing that they are now a safer, stronger family unit.
*Names and identities have been changed.