Raped, and pregnant at 12: double trauma
Two months from giving birth and scarred for life
AJOBURG woman thought her 12-year-old daughter’s distended abdomen was bloated due to constipation, only to find that she was in fact seven months pregnant.
She made this shocking discovery after the laxatives she had given the child failed to work, because the big belly remained. It was only when she took the child to a hospital that it was confirmed that the girl was pregnant, and two months away from giving birth.
The child had been repeatedly raped by her uncle while the mother was away in Cape Town on business. The uncle was handed down a life sentence last week for raping and later impregnating his niece, but clinical psychologist Linda Pera said the trauma the child endured would last a lifetime.
“It’s not just something you overcome and forget,” she said.
Pera pointed out that this event will almost certainly impact the emotional and psychological growth of the child.
“The emotional maturation of the child is significantly stunted; they can’t mature emotionally as they should and as they would have,” she added.
The mother of the child had gone to Cape Town on business and left her daughter at home in Mayfair with her two brothers.
Joburg police spokesperson Captain Xoli Mbele was not able to confirm the duration of her trip.
The uncle, who was unemployed at the time, raped the child in the afternoon when she returned from school and while his brother was at work.
As time went by, the mother thought her daughter was just suffering from a bout of constipation and took her to a clinic, where she was given medication. According to Mbele, upon seeing no results from the medication, the child was transferred to a hospital, where it was discovered and confirmed that she was pregnant.
The 12-year-old was said to have been already in her seventh month of gestation when her pregnancy was discovered.
Although fearful at first, the child eventually disclosed that it was in fact her uncle who had raped and impregnated her.
Pera said what happened to the girl would have an impact on her future relationships, as well as the way she might grow to view those around her.
“Trust is so badly broken and it’s such a difficult thing to repair… The trust that the child has with all individuals in her future life will not be easy for her to establish, and so it interferes with the connections she makes with people.
“Her uncle’s actions have also jeopardised the relationship that had previously existed between her and her mother. She may feel very angry with her mother and could end up blaming her for putting her in harm’s way; of course, not that the mother intended that.”
Pera said it would also be difficult for the girl to deal with being a parent.
“It’s so difficult for the child to deal with an adult situation in a child capacity. She still has the mental and emotional capacity of a 12-year-old and is only developed to that stage, and now she has to deal with that adult experience.
“It could have devastating consequences and the girl could think of suicide and ways to get out of it,” she warned.
Clinical child psychologist Cristine Scolari said the girl underwent a double trauma – the rape, and that a known and trusted adult was the perpetrator.
“To move forward, the girl will need extensive support from her family and other adults, such as teachers, as well as professional counselling.”
Nhlanhla Mokwena, executive director of Powa (People Opposing Women Abuse), said her organisation welcomed the sentence meted out to the uncle, because rape was a trauma that affected girls and women for life.
She said her organisation hoped that the uncle serves most of his sentence in prison and is not released early on parole.
“Giving people long sentences should not be the only solution in terms of dealing with violence against women, especially sexual violence,” Mokwena added.
Just four weeks ago, a 47- year-old Joburg man was also handed a life sentence after raping and impregnating his 16-year-old daughter, who he had also exposed to porn.