Photography by Denise Beckwith

‘I have always had a disability. I had polio as a baby. My father hated me because I am disabled and when I was six years old he raped me. When I told my mum she ran away to her mum’s house and divorced my father. We all went to live there with my mum. That place was hell to live in. Then my Mum went to Johannesburg to work. She left us with her Mum. That place was hell.

When I was 13 years old a man beat down our door and I was raped for a second time. After that happened my Uncle kicked me out. My mum came to get me and took me to Johannesburg but I didn’t like it there. My mum when she came to Joberg she didn’t tell anybody that she was leaving, she just went. We tried to ask for her but no one knew. After a month we found she went to Joberg.

I went to stay with her but there were problems so I went to live in the street. I lived in the street for two years.

I didn’t cope well at school because I was full of anger. I thought I am a curse in this world. I had so much anger. I studied standard 7, when I took the test I failed, then I took the test again and I failed again, then I took the test again and I passed. Then Standard 8, I failed again, I failed again and then I passed. I did Standard 9, I failed again. On the second time I passed but I didn’t study any more after that. Being disabled it is hard to get a job especially when you are not educated. Today it is hard for me to get work.

When I was 18 I was raped again. I was told that once you have been raped you will always be a victim.

Later I met my husband, I told him that I had anger but he wanted me anyway. We tried to have a baby together but I had three miscarriages. I was so angry, I thought this was my punishment for what had happened to me before. The third time I miscarried I found out I was HIV positive. This time I felt like killing myself. I went to stay in hospital. When I came out I got pregnant for a fourth time. This time I was pregnant until 6 months and then the baby came. She was born on the 5th February 2007. After 16 days my husband passed away. I had to bury my husband while my baby was only just born.

Now my daughter is growing up and my mother lives with us. She has a kidney problem so I look after her. All my brothers don’t want to hear anything about the rape. Even my mum she doesn’t want to talk about the rape. They say it brings shame, but whose shame is it?’