I am married and a mother of two beautiful girls. I work in a government institution. Up until one horrible night, I was happy with every aspect of my life: my marriage, my kids and everything else, was going great.
This particular day started quite ordinarily. The only difference being that I ended up working a little late. So, I called my husband to inform him of the matter and asked him to go home to the kids early. At 9:40 pm, I finished my work and left the office. Since it was too late for a minibus taxi, I decided to take a cab instead and went straight to where they are usually parked.
I got in a taxi without worrying about the price. The driver was somewhere in his forties. I was concerned by the fact that the cab didn’t have any license plates so I proceeded to ask the driver why and he told me that he just got pulled over and the police took the plates. That answer calmed me down and we continued our ride.
Since rent in Addis Ababa is expensive, my husband and I had been living on the outskirts of the city, in an area called Burayu. It had not been a year since we finished building our house and moved in. When the driver took a road that I did not recognize, I got confused and asked him where he was taking me. He replied that it was a shortcut and I believed him.
A few minutes later, he stopped the car in the middle of a dark alleyway. When I asked him why, he said the car broke down and went out to take a look at the problem. He opened the trunk and a few seconds later, the door to the backseat. And said, “Sorry, can you pass me the flashlight next to you?” When I turned around to look for it he put a gun under my neck and said, “If you utter one word or start screaming, I will pull the trigger and end your life”.
I pleaded, “If you want money take everything that is in the bag.” He replied saying: “I want your body, not your money. Now take off every piece of clothing on your body.” I begged him: “Please! I am a mother of two! I am married! Please!” All in vain. When he put the gun closer, my soul was in agony. My kids were the only ones I could think about, so I gave in and did everything that he asked me to do with tears streaming down my face.
Once he was done using my body as he pleased, he said, “If you try going to the police, or anyone else: I will finish you.”I tried to calm myself down and make it look like I was ok and exclaimed, “Oh don’t worry, I would’ve done it even if you hadn’t forced me, I just got scared when I saw the gun! In fact, why don’t you give me your phone number so that we can meet up some other time?” He laughed and asked, “Do you think I'm stupid?” I tried to convince him by swearing on every possible thing, then he said “Why don’t you give me your phone number instead and I will call you when I want to see you.” I gave him my number and he dropped me off at home. I thanked him and made it look like I was happy with what had happened.
When I stepped into the house, I started crying on the shoulders of my husband and told him everything. He was in shock but he still tried to calm me down. He said that we must go to the police station in the morning to report the incident. The next day, I went to the hospital to get a checkup and I was told to come back in 3 months to test for HIV. We then went to the police station and they told us that the only way to find the perpetrator is to wait for his call.
A week later on Saturday, I received a call from an unknown number. When I picked up, it was him, I tried calming myself down and talked to him. I was recording every part of our conversation. He told me we were going to meet up one of these days and hung up the phone.
I informed the police and continued waiting for his call. Three days later, he called using another number and said "Hi" and hung up. The next day he called using a third number and told me that we would meet up and hung up again. The fourth time, he called me using his first number and told me the same thing. The police called him using that number and told him that they were customers looking for a cab and arrested him. I was called to come down to the station and when I saw him I couldn’t help myself and in an instant jumped to strangle him, but the officer next to me held me back.
They opened a criminal investigation and realized that the perpetrator had multiple prior convictions, so he was sentenced to 16 years in prison without parole. Three months later, I went to the hospital to get tested for HIV and I was informed that I was a carrier of the virus.
If God and my husband hadn't been with me, I wouldn’t be alive today. I have tried committing suicide so many times and failed. But now that I think about it, I want to live for my kids and my husband who hasn’t left my side knowing that I’m an HIV patient. However, I am always scared. I have two daughters and I don’t want them to suffer the same fate as me. I feel restless until they come home from school. I confine them to the house like prisoners and I never send them to the shop.
All of this happened seven years ago but I am still sick, heartbroken and every little thing terrifies me. When I go to bed with a headache, I am terrified that I will not make it to the next day. I am terrified that my daughters will suffer the same fate as me and most of all, I pity my husband who has been through a lot because of me.
Source: Abel Birhanu
Art by: BalaAbyssinia