My name is Sofia. I am 26 years old and I live in Kisumu.
My story starts out with me just looking for a better future. I got through my education up to high school level, so I moved to Kisumu from my rural home in Siaya, to seek greener pastures.
Soon, I got a job in a marketing company. There, they would give me kitchenware products to sell to customers at their doorstep. I would walk for kilometers just to hit my daily target, from which I would get a 10% commission on goods sold. They would often relocate me to continue selling, too.
All was well until I started getting complaints from my employer: I was no longer making huge sales for the company, and I needed either to adjust, or lose my job. I pleaded, but she refused to listen. “Sofia, don’t be an idiot! You are a beautiful young lady, highly gifted!,” she said. “Now get out of my office and get me higher sales.”
I was so broken, I didn’t know what to do. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t beat my target. Soon, male clients started to say they would be willing to buy my products only if I slept with them…
One chilly morning, I was sent to deliver products to some random customer, and then head back to the office for another assignment. My employer sent me 150 Kenyan shillings to commute to Mambo Leo and back. I quickly changed my schedule and headed straight to the place.
When I rang the doorbell at the gate, a skinny guy in his mid-forties opened the gate and welcomed me inside. He was home alone. He said his name was Bruno. He offered me a seat in his sofa, received the products and examined them carefully… He offered me tea, but I rejected it: I explained that I didn’t take tea or meals during work. He pleaded me to accept, and as I refused, he told me to check my phone. Bruno had already paid. I had 7000 Kenyan shillings instead of 4500 in my account. I told him about this mistake, but he ignored it. “The excess is your tip.” he said.
I got a little troubled, so I just thanked him and begged to leave…. He told me to wait and asked me if we could be more than just clients, and go a little intimate… I refused and told him I had principles. “Fuck principles!,” he shouted, as he rushed for the door, closed and locked it. I was so confused, I didn’t know what to do. He came towards me, but I ran towards the kitchen. All doors were locked.
I tried to scream for help, but my efforts were empty. The compound was big; no one was able to get whatever was happening in the inside. He approached me, laughing sarcastically. “You’re mine bitch, come to daddy, nice and easy, I’ll take you slowly…” He locked the door and went to his living room. He turned up the music loud.
I was locked here for about 2 hours 30 minutes, when he came back and demanded me to comply if I ever wanted to be freed. It was evening and darkness was falling. I had no choice. I agreed.
When he was done, he opened the door and told me to leave.
I left in a hurry. I didn’t even remember to wear my panty, I called my boss immediately. She acted so okay and not bothered, that it was normal. Nothing new. “Io ni hali ya kazi,” she said. “That’s the nature of work.”
The following morning, I woke up and didn’t report to work. I went straight to the hospital to get tested for HIV/AIDS. They came out negative, but I was also given these drugs, commonly known as PEP, to prevent me from being exposed to HIV. I was also given an emergency pill, and was advised to be cautious, that such cases were on the rise… Some much even worse than mine. I was also advised to go and report to the police station, so that actions could be taken.
When I reported to the police, the officer in charge agreed to help only if I fueled their van. I had to part with two thousand Kenyan shillings, as I was determined to make Bruno pay for what he did to me.
We went to his home and arrested him, he was taken to the police station and informed on all the charges he was found guilty of, which he strongly denied and asked to speak to his lawyer. He was put away in a cell, and I was instructed to come back the following day to continue with our case.
When I came back to the office, my boss told me my services were no longer required. I had to look for a new job.
The following day, I went back to the police station to follow my case. But when I arrived, I found out Bruno was no longer there. The police told me they didn’t have any evidence against him, so they released him as they conducted their investigations.
I kept on coming back to check on their progress, but they kept on pushing dates… The officer in charge of the case went as far as wanting to have sex with me, so he can speed up everything and take my rapist to jail. Soon, I lost hope and gave up on the case. I never came back.
I started job hunting. I would walk into offices, organizations and companies, asking for casual jobs. One day, a ran into women Empowerment organization. The lady in charge was a feminist and gender-based violence activist. We had a long conversation: she wanted to know where I came from, my level of education, and why I was looking for employment. She also asked if I would be interested in any college training. I chose a fashion and design course.
Right now, I’m married and a mother to a 3-year-old girl and a 1-year-old boy. I have a small shop where I do my lovely job of making traditional African clothes (kitenge), sewing and mending torn clothes with the sewing machine I was gifted back in college, after successfully completing my course.
Justice wasn’t served right to me. The police claimed that my rapist had fled out of town, and they would update us once they got hold of him. I still wait. My business is not well paying, and I still don’t have enough capital to expand it, but so far, I am happy.
My life is good, and justice will be served one day.
Written by Joans Arodi