Bearing The Brunt Of Incestuous Rape

06 Jan 2016 08:50am
BY July Nafuka

WINDHOEK, 05 JAN (NAMPA) – Taimi Shavuka (not her real name) knew that the incestuous relationship she shared with her cousin was wrong but yet she had to keep the family together.
Family members are there to care for one another, to look out for each other and to protect one another but for Taimi , that was not the case.
For four months in 2014, her first-degree cousin, who is son to her father’s brother, sexually molested her.
“I didn't want my cousin to kill himself because of our relationship. The family still needs him,” the 22-year-old said.
She explained that her cousin, who was in his late 30’s and single at that time, first offered to assist her with her tertiary studies and basic needs, but that offer was later just a way of gaining her trust for him to get what he wants and for her to keep it a secret.
Taimi struggles telling her story for the first time as she sits in the backyard garden that she regards as her get away spot when she wants to be alone.
Describing his actions, she can't stop herself from crying when all bottled up emotions bubble to the surface, but she is determined to tell her story so that it is heard and something is done, as incest rape is something people choose to be quiet about.
“He invited me for a weekend at his place and while in bed on the first night, he started touching me all over. I told him I didn't like it but he said he was just giving me love. At midnight, he started doing sexual movements towards my body. I told him to stop but it seemed like I was making it worse.”
She explained that he forced himself onto her and that it was the first of more.
Taimi said she later confronted her cousin as to why he was doing that to her but he broke into tears, which left her really confused not knowing why he was crying when he was the one who forced himself onto her; it was all part of his manipulation.
“Every time I confronted him, he would tell me that he would kill himself and I didn't want my cousin to kill himself. If only I knew that this was just a manipulation to take advantage of my body,” she said while wiping the rolling tears off her cheek with bare hands.
The first time she confronted him was two weeks after the first incident at his house and she explained that her cousin threatened to commit suicide, which she did not want to be held liable for.
That was one of the reasons she allowed this unusual relationship to continue because he was manipulating her using his own life. His manipulation later evolved into using guilt because at times, he would ask her to pay back the money he offered her.
Incestuous rape is sexual contact that occurs between persons who are so closely related that their marriage is illegal such as parent or nephew and niece, and usually this happens when one family member is sexually abusing another.
In an interview with Nampa on incestuous rape through the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Control Social Worker at National Level, Veronica Theron, explained that most victims of such rape incidences choose not to talk about it because they have usually been bribed with money or gifts until the perpetrator has enough confidence to know that the victim will not speak out.
Victims enjoy the sexual attention that goes along with the gestures of love and care, which makes them feel guilty and responsible for the abuse.
In cases where the victim is a child, they tend to confuse sex with love and in most incidences the perpetrator chooses vulnerable children that want love and attention, added Theron.
“Perpetrator takes a lot of time to prepare their victim, and this is referred to as grooming through which they carefully study their victims and know their circumstances and their vulnerabilities.”
She explained that victims are mostly afraid of the consequences that may occur if they tell someone because the abuser may have threatened them or the victim may depend on the abuser because they are the sole breadwinner. It is also a matter of playing with trust, as the abuser could be a very influential person in that they are known for being caring, loving and reliable, which leaves the victim thinking nobody would believe them or they could break up a family.
Theron said factors such as sexual deviant behaviour; personality disorders; social disorders; anger; dominance; entitlement; disrespect for children; and perpetrator was abused physically, sexually or psychologically; are what leads the perpetrator to act in such a manner.
Expanding on the matter, Senior Social Worker attached to the Gender Based Violence Protection Unit, Charlene Uakuramenua told Nampa: “Culture and tradition also perpetuate incest/child sexual abuse and it occur across all cultures, traditions, ethnic and socio-economic groups, and in some cultures more cases of incest are reported where grandchildren are impregnated by grandfathers”.
She explained that stigmatization also plays a big role, as incest rape is a shame which is why many families keep quiet about it or if one parent is economically and emotionally dependent on another, she/he will try to hide what is happening to the children out of fear that they will lose everything.
“People get away with incest rape because families are supposed to stick together and this is imprinted in the mind of the victim, leaving everything concealed. Tradition and families should draw boundaries when this becomes uncontrollable.
“A lot of these cases seldom get reported or only get reported once the victim has physical consequences such as sexually transmitted infections or pregnancies,” she said.
When asked if incest rape is common in Namibia, Uakuramenua said incest rape is common in Namibia but people do not report them as they sometimes are afraid to put shame on their families, while tradition also has an impact on such situation but the definition is simple regardless of culture or tradition: “The moment a person is forced into sexual intercourse it is regarded as a rape”.
Uakuramenua said it is not part of tradition that one person force themselves onto another family member, meaning there should be an agreement between the two parties; only then would incest not be regarded as rape.
“Because it is common, it is not reported so the full magnitude of the problem cannot be addressed,” said Uakuramenua. Inter-generational sex is acceptable is acceptable in some cultures.
Uakuramenua said it should also be taken into consideration that some parents prefer not to report cases of incest because they don’t trust the formal system due to delays, postponements, attitude of service providers and many more reasons. They belief system of an individual causes secondary trauma to victims, she further explained.
The recovery process for a victim is never a speedy one as the secret hangs over them and in many instances they too become abusers over time, Uakuramenua noted.
Like in Taimi's case, she explained that the more she kept quiet about it, the more it tore her part and drove her crazy, which made her recovery very tough.
“When around people I would be happy, talking and laughing, no one would even imagine that this was the sad story behind my smile. I was staying alone at the time and every time I went home, I would cry, take sleeping pills and three painkillers using alcohol as a substitute for water to knock myself out to sleep,” said Taimi.
She explained that her situation came to an end after four months when she realised that alcohol was not the solution and decided to move closer to God after reading a book about a woman who was raped by her father and found healings in God’s words.
Sometimes incest rape occurs for many years, so the psychological scars are deeply rooted and require a lot of therapy and support. In other instances where a person was believed at an early stage and removed from the presence of the perpetrator, recovery would be faster, with a good support system, making it possible for victims to recover eventually, said Uakuramenua.
“It is important for society to get involved through education on specific topics like incestuous relationships because people have to understand the devastating long term effects of such actions on their families,” said Theron.
Taimi is still in recovery and relying on the words of God to guide her towards a better life that is free from the emotional scars and frightening memories of being sexually abused by her cousin. She is serious about her tertiary studies and hope to graduate with pride and from a past that has made her stronger woman.