Victims of rape in PNG: crying in vain?
By Sr. Lorena Jenal - PNG Catholic Family Life Apostolate
As long as I live I’ll think of the morning I was called to the bedside of twelve year old Tamaris in one of the provincial hospitals of the Highlands. Tamaris was from a remote area without health facilities. She had been raped and got pregnant. The man involved got away without any charges or punishment. Tamaris was uneducated and tremendously afraid that her parents would find out about the tragedy. When menstruations disappeared, her girlfriend, who was two years older, helped her to perform a “bush” abortion. But she started bleeding so heavily, that she was rushed to the hospital. There I met her in her agony, pain and desolation. She was only a child and had to experience such a severe crime. How could such brutality, injustice, ignorance and neglect be possible?
For three months I was at her bedside almost every day, just listening to the agony that can’t be expressed. I still remember her eyes at times shining like stars. In her imagination, she was able to see her real beauty, uniqueness and dignity, in the likeness of God. She had done no wrong and could not be blamed or held responsible for any fault. She was a child with rights of security and protection. But everything had been taken away from her in a most disgusting manner! She was deprived from growing into a beautiful woman, a wonderful mother, a grace filled, inspiring professional, perhaps an educator... Somehow it was a privilege to be with her during this too short time of her agony and pain.
Tamaris still cries out, “I am a woman and the blood of my unborn baby cries; the blood of violence against me cries; because of your power connected with fear and shame you made me shake and disappear. I’m a woman and the blood of my womb, but even more my bleeding heart cries; because as a woman I cannot cope with hatred. I’m created for compassion and love.”
Tamaris’ cry is for the silent cry of violated women, “Give us a voice to make known our rights to equality, dignity, respect, truth and justice. My cry is for all women: stop torturing us; stop blaming us for witchcraft that does not exist. Start taking a stand against abandoning us. Start acknowledging our equality; as your mothers, sisters, wives we are the backbone of society.
“My story is an invitation to face our naked reality of girls and women dying by bleeding to death for lack of protection and security. My cry is a call for our children, youth, families, and communities all around the country and the world. Enough with wrong attitudes and behavior”! (www.cbcpngsi.org – firstname.lastname@example.org)