(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

Lamine, “I cannot believe someone could do that to six-year-old”

'Lamine', whose six-year-old daughter was raped while in the toilets at school in the Senegalese capital Dakar
Ebrima Sillah/IRIN

Rights activists in Senegal are about to send to the government legal and social proposals for combatting sexual violence against women and children. Many say tackling what appears to be a growing problem requires a change in mentality as well as stringent laws, rigorously applied. IRIN spoke with Lamine, who said his six-year-old daughter was recently raped while she was in the toilets at school in the capital Dakar.

“I was on travel for work at the time. My wife called to tell me something really serious had happened. Our daughter, Heba*, had run home from school that day crying that she was bleeding [from her vagina].

"She told us that she had been in the toilets at school that afternoon and that one of the ‘big boys’ came in. She thinks he was in the CM2 class [around 10 years old]. He told her that if she screamed he would kill her and then he raped her.

“My wife took our daughter to a medical centre and was told to take her to see a midwife. The midwife looked at Heba’s injuries and confirmed that she had been raped.

“The following day my wife went with Heba to tell the school director what had happened. He denied that it had happened there. But Heba spoke up and said it was the truth.

“I knew the police would ask for a medical certificate if we wanted to press charges so we took Heba to the main hospital where they did all sorts of tests on her. The test for HIV was negative. They told us her injuries were serious. They hospitalised her for eight days.

“We have seen the police. They have been good and have been gentle in speaking with Heba. They have the clothes she was wearing that day. I just hope they will make an arrest.

“It hurts me so, so much. I feel such pity for my daughter. I cannot believe someone could do that to a six-year-old. To ruin her life like that. When I visited her in hospital, she looked so small. This has traumatised me.

“Heba is now home and seems a little calmer now. She is still in pain but she tries to play with the other children. You can tell though that all is not well…and she is now frightened of men she does not know.

“Heba cannot return to that school now. We will have to find her a new one.

"People who commit such acts should be put in prison for life. This is becoming far too common. There are no guarantees anymore that your child will be safe at school – even primary school.

“The only way to stop such crimes is to punish the culprits severely. Everyone needs to know that there are consequences for such horrendous actions.”

*Not her real name

See related IRIN report here


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