March 04, 2009

Patient testimony from a 22-year-old woman in Burundi

I was walking down the street and as I passed this one house, a man took me by force, dragged me inside and raped me. I didn’t know him, I had never seen him before. I tried to resist, but he was stronger than me and he ended up throwing me on the ground, lying on top of me and raping me.

I went to Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières’ Seruka centre the next day, because I was afraid I would get HIV. The nurse gave me some pills and injections. This was last month. I am here now for my follow-up visit. I am very worried about HIV and also about my baby. I am four and a half months pregnant. I knew I was pregnant when I was raped, and my greatest concern was that my baby would get hurt. This is my first child. I always think about HIV, it is still my big concern. I don’t know if I am infected yet, I still have to do the test.

I am married, but my marriage is not legally registered. My husband is away, he has gone to another province to try and make some money and I stay here in Bujumbura. So I live on my own. I work as a tailor, making clothes for people here in Bujumbura. I haven’t told my husband about the rape yet, but I will when I see him next time. I don’t know what his reaction will be.

I saw my rapist in town the other day and when he saw me he ran away. He has committed a crime, but I don’t know what to do to press charges and besides I don’t even know who he is.

I feel sad and I don’t have any strength anymore. I can’t do the things I used to. I have all these worries in my head and my biggest fear is HIV. Every time I think about the rape I think I could be infected with HIV. I have no peace. And if the baby has HIV, what am I going to do?

I believe the rape brought me bad luck. I am a tailor, I sewing clothes for a living and all my clients have disappeared since I was raped. My husband used to send me money, but he doesn’t anymore. I have nothing to eat.