Kenya-Somalia: Persecutions of victims of child abuse
Ahmed Mohamoud* seems like a typical eight-year old boy. He is dressed in jeans and sneakers and wears a hat of the New Orleans Saints, the team that won the US Super Bowl this year. Mohamed fled from the Hawiye area of Banadir region, not far from Mogadishu, with his parents. IRIN met Ahmed in Kakuma, northwestern Kenya, where his mother Fatuma agreed to tell IRIN their story.
“We arrived in Kenya in January 2009. We were first in Dadaab [refugee camp in northeastern Kenya]. After some time we were relocated to Kakuma. Mohamed, who is my only son, started going to the madrasa [Islamic school] inside the camp and not too far from our home here.
“He loved it and always said his dream was to teach the Koran to others. In May 2009, Ahmed was coming back home from the madrasa when he met one of his neighbours in the street.
“The man walked with Ahmed and when they were close to his house, he asked the kid to join him for a tea. The kid walked into the house with the man. After drinking tea, the man asked Ahmed if he wanted to see some toys he had in his room. The kid agreed and when they were sitting on the bed, he started touching him and later abused him.
“Ahmed went home that day but did not mention anything of what had happened to me or his father. The following day, he went back to the madrasa and again met the man on his way back home.
“The same abuse scenario went on for a week. Ahmed came home every day but never gave us a reason to think that there was something wrong with him - until one night, I heard him screaming and crying. I ran to his room and he told me he had pains in the abdomen and anus.
“I took him immediately to the camp clinic and after visiting my son, the doctor came to me with tons of questions about who the child had been with, who his friends were, and where his father was. When I asked him what was going on, he told me Ahmed had been sodomized. I could not believe my ears. My only child, my seven-year-old boy, had gone through this and I had suspected nothing.
“He gave me a medical report and told me I had to talk to the police. In the meantime Ahmed walked out of the room where he was with the doctor. He could not look me in the eyes. Ahmed came closer to me and, still avoiding eye contact, hugged me by the waist saying, `Mum, are you upset with me now?’
“At that moment I could not hold whatever was in me any longer. I could not... The pain was too intense and I just burst into tears. I know I shouldn’t have, not in front of my son, not at that moment, but I couldn’t help it.
“Ahmed and I went to speak to the police, to whom we showed the medical report. The man was detained for 15 days and after that, released on bail. You could not believe my disappointment when I passed him while walking near my house. I hoped Ahmed would never have to see him again. But there he was.
“Ever since the news spread in the community, Ahmed could no longer go to the madrasa. People in the street started making fun of him, humiliating him and calling him a liar. No one believed he was abused. They all thought he made all this up. So after three or four times when he came home crying, I decided he should not go there any more. The thing is that not only can he not go to the madrasa but basically he cannot leave the house. We are constantly threatened, get jerry cans thrown at us and are spat upon. Ahmed has no friends; nobody talks to him other than the counsellor who comes to see him every week.
“The authorities have asked us if we want to move to a different community but if we did, things would not change; people would still know, and the stigma would follow us.
“After a year, the case is still wending its way through the legal system. My son’s childhood has been ruined and his dreams spoiled but I hope at least justice will be done.”
*Not their real names
24 June 2010