She lay there on the cold examination bench. Motionless. Alone. Unaware of what was about to happen to her. Legs astride in a position we call lithotomy in medical jargon. The position enables maximum view for consented medical procedures that necessitate access to the inner reproductive organs of a female patient. An examination that requires a chaperone in the spirit of upholding professionalism. But this was no ordinary procedure. I could feel the scream rising from my belly. I stifled it. I was watching with the troop. I didn’t want to scare them. The media house had mentioned the word “rape” in the bulletin. I knew it was going to be bad. I just didn’t know how badly shaken I would be. How angry I got. As he moved around the room, his identity partly hidden, he seemed familiar with what he was about to do. I willed the unidentified unconscious woman to wake up. I squeezed whatever was in my hand. It was my phone. It fell. She didn’t wake up. She couldn’t hear me. She was lying there. Motionless. He approached her, positioned himself between her raised legs, dropped his pants and proceeded to rape her. He’s done. He zips up and goes on with whatever he was doing in the examination room. She’s still lying there. Just lying there. Alone. Cold. Undressed. Raped. By a person she trusted to help her. I am angry. I struggle with the tears. The camera stops rolling. I have questions. Many questions.
I am startled. The troop has been watching all this time. They have watched the clip. They have watched me.
“Mom!” A second impatient call. I snap out of my thoughts. Murderous thoughts.
“What was that man doing?” It is 7 year old dudelet. He leads with the interrogation. His 5 year old triplet sisters are listening keenly. Their brother knows many things. They too want to know.
I switch on my mommy gear. What do I say? How do I explain about rape? We’ve touched on making babies before. Explaining in simple language but without much details. This. Rape. How to break it down to 7 and 5 year olds? Should I dismiss them? No. I strive to ensure that I am as honest as can be with information. I need them to know they can come to me with any question and I shall try work it out to the best of my knowledge.
“Mom!!!!!” He reminds me.
“That man was having bad manners with the girl.” That was my instant response.
Silence. They are in deep thought. They haven’t understood. Bad manners could mean anything. I don’t want it associated with sex only. I realise I have to correct it.
“Remember what I told you about making babies?”
“Yes.” Z1 responds. Her eyes brighten up. “When a mommy and a daddy want to make a baby.”
“Does that girl have a baby inside her?” was the puzzled response from Z3
I need to rephrase this. Take 3.
“When a mommy and a daddy want to make babies, the daddy lies on top of the mommy and uses his susu (penis. I know. I need to start using the correct word) to put a seed inside her which then becomes a baby.”
Whoa! That was a mouthful. I wait for their reaction.
Dudelet: “Is that woman that man’s friend?” He did notice there was something amiss.
“No. That man is bad. He made the woman to go to sleep using some medicines and then he forced himself to have sex with her.”
Z2: “Mom, what is sex?”
I can feel the sweat running down the small of my back. But we must have this conversation.
“Sex is when a mommy and a daddy are trying to make babies. Just the way I said before.” (I know it’s also for recreation but hey, I tried!) “But this man is not a nice person because the woman did not agree to have sex with him. She was sick and asleep because of the drugs he gave her.”
Dudelet: “Mom, I heard you saying another word. I can’t remember it.”
We struggle with various options of possible vocabularies I may have used. Finally, it hits me. “Is the word rape?”
“Yes!” He shouts. “I heard you telling Susan (the nanny). What is rape?”
Wow! Children are like absorbent towels. Here I was trying to protect them. Conversation must be had.
“Rape is when a man or a woman forces another man or a woman to have sex with them.” I pause for effect. Silence. They are digesting.
“If someone tries to make you have sex whom do you tell?” I try to change the angle of the discussion.
Z1: “We tell mommy or Susan or teacher.”
“That’s right! No one should touch your private parts or have sex with you.”
“Mom, has the bad man gone to jail?” Dudelet asks.
“The police are still looking for him. When they catch him, they will take him to jail.”
“Mom, let’s read the bedtime book!” Z2 has moved on.
My heart goes to the many victims of rape. Male and female. May justice prevail. To the perpetrators of the same, words cannot describe the anger I have. To an unjust world, one that is unable to protect its citizens, I weep.