I needed to tell Habiba’s story because so many stories remain unheard because we are too ashamed; we think the victim deserves it; we do not know how to help; we do not want to be involved in a difficult situation; we are superior to anyone who has suffered such a fate… the list goes on. I wish to thank everyone who has read Habiba’s story and relates to it in any way, shape or form. I hope that this story makes us more empathetic to and more supportive of the victims. More so I hope that this story becomes one that is talked about in terms of the crime, punishment and possibly rehabilitation for the perpetrators. I appreciate all the responses both public and private, to this realistic fiction. I hope that Habiba’s story returns power and dignity to those young girls, women, and boys who have had to live through a similar horrific experience. The intent of this story is to expose the unconscionable actions of adults who prey on the weak and innocent for their own sick pleasure and to motivate law making and law enforcement agencies to galvanize their efforts and resources to eradicate such a common crime in Nigerian society.
Below is one reader’s response to Habiba’s Story that was sent directly to me. Beverly, I thank you for allowing me to share your response and I do value your privacy.
Beverly Responds to Habiba’s Story
How could this be Habiba’s Story?This article is the first one to leave me totally unable to express my true feelings, perhaps because I am not quite sure how I feel about it.
Firstly, I felt ANGER: from wondering where everybody was and how so possible that Baba saw it fit for Uncle to be spending extended periods of time with his family even when he was away. Then I thought for a second that Mama was having an affair with Uncle; because if Uncle had a wife why didn’t she come with him to visit his best friend.
Secondly, I felt PAIN, when I think of what memories like these would do to the mind of the poor innocent child… from the various whispers of abuse that I have happened hear about, I had concluded that it would most likely be easier to deal with such abuse at a younger age than it would be when one has reached their teens. Purely because at the age of thirteen most girls are already going through puberty and exploring their sexuality; having someone close to the family forcing himself on you would definitely have you wondering how much of your fault that incident was (maybe not). She would probably also be asking herself whether she actually wanted it or not, that confusion would linger on ones mind for eternity.
Thirdly: I felt Happiness: most cases of abuse never get found out about.Nobody ever wants to tell, especially with us Africans and when it involves someone so close to home you dare not speak of such.I was so happy when Papa walked into the room because I knew that the end to her suffering had come and finally the perpetrator would be convicted, shamed or killed.
Finally; I feel disappointment! For a story like this which a lot of people would have been through similar disturbing situations, including domestic, metal, physical abuse, etc. I was expecting a more encouraging end. I think that to remind people of such a traumatic experience that they have been through; it is only fair to give it an ending that shows that “there is light at the end of the tunnel”.
I really like your writings; you have a way of capturing your audience. Even though I do not read much, your articles give me a reason to want to meet “THE END”. However, I wasn’t pleased to meet THE END on this occasion; I wanted to get in there and turn his clothes inside-out.To me this article just confirmed most victims’ worst fear; that what if I told, what would happen? Would he be able to get me again?The answer that this article gives is nothing! Nothing would happen even when he is caught in the act, no one would protect you and everyday that you walk out of your door you would look over your shoulders to make sure that he is not waiting out there to finish you off! And perhaps one day he would, because he sees nothing wrong with what he did and has no fear repeating his actions. Only this time he believes that he loves you and there is no shame on him!