When life is different to the way you expect it to be

She kept her eyes down, avoiding contact as she entered into my office. When she sat down, she did not settle into a comfortable position in the wingback chair. Hands closed, feet together, the young, slim woman waited for me to speak.  She  softly  answered  the  questions  on  name,  age  and  phone  number.  I  put  my  pen  down  and  asked  the question  she  possibly  never  wanted  to  hear  –  “Why  are  you  here?How  can  I  help  you?”  She trembled  lightly  and held her still closed hands silently in my direction. Slowly she opened her fingers, one by one.

In the palm of her hand she had written the letters HIV in ballpoint-pen. As slowly as she had opened her hand, the opposite slamming shut of her hand into a clenched fist gave an idea of her deep distress. Only then she met my eyes. “I don’t want anyone to know! Please do not write it on my card!” With this, the eyes, wide with terror, filled with tears. She sobbed and wailed. “What is going to happen? I have two daughters who are still small. My mother is old and ill and will not be able to support us when I have to stop working.” Her small frame rocked back and forth. The  pile  of  well-used  tissues  was  growing  in  my  wastepaper  basket.  When  the  initial  outpouring  had  eased,  she told me that she had been home one day when she answered a knock on her front door. A man, posing as a public servant, asked to enter to check the electricity supply to her home. He was dressed in a way which made her trust him and she allowed him to enter. Once inside, he pretended to look at all the electrical appliances, asking her to show  him  the  way.  In  the  bedroom,  he  turned  on  her  and  raped  her.  He  left,  threatening  to  do  the  same  to  her daughters if she went to the police.

She cowered in her house all day, terrified to do anything more than continuously washing herself. That night she decided  to  talk  to  her  confidant,  her  sister,  who  accompanied  her the  next  day  for  all  the  usual  examinations  and statements   to   the   police.  Because   no   traces   of   semen   were  present  the   next   day,   nobody   was   particularly interested in her story. She laid a charge of assault against the man, which to this day has never been investigated. She regularly sees this man walking the streets, threatening her to “Stop, or else”.

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