Sarah and Maria (names changed for privacy) are sisters. Sarah was married for many years but was unable to have children. In desperation for an answer, she consulted a witch doctor who told her that she would get pregnant only if her husband raped her sister Maria who was a virgin. Sarah believed what the witch told her and later convinced her husband to buy into the idea.
When Maria came to visit her sister as usual, the couple saw an occasion to execute their malicious plot. They immediately locked her in the house where she was raped every day by her brother-in-law for over three weeks. Maria tried to call out for help but nobody came to her rescue because Sarah had convinced the neighbours and whoever was concerned that her sister was mentally disturbed and that she was going to be taken back to the hospital.
After 3 weeks of unspeakable abuse, Maria managed to escape. She tried to find help as she recounts;
“When I escaped, I did not know where to go. I was hurting physically and emotionally; I traumatized and confused. Then I luckily met an older woman who took me to the police. I told them what had happened to me but all they did was to ask for my telephone number and say that they would call me later. I waited for more than two months for their call, in vain. So, I went there to ask about the progress of my case and they told me that my case had been closed. My hope for help was shuttered. Knowing that I got pregnant made me feel even more vulnerable.
One day coincidentally, I talked to another woman about the dreadful abuse I had suffered, and she told me about Haguruka and I went there. As soon as I walked into Haguruka’s offices, I was welcomed with respect and so much empathy. I told them what had happened to me and they immediately gave me an advocate who helped me take my case to court. Meanwhile, Haguruka not only provided their services to me for free, they also paid all the costs that were involved in the process. I felt understood and supported.”
Haguruka’s legal aid to Maria was effective. The rapist was sentenced for five years in jail and was ordered to pay Maria three million Rwandan francs. Maria is now living with her child and though her psychological wounds are still fresh; she is comforted by knowing that her abuser faced the justice he deserved.