Open Menu

Anita B

2017 (Narrative date)

In 2016, the estimates of modern slavery in Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for approximately 13.6 percent of the world's total enslaved population. As evident from surveys conducted in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and Ethiopia by Walk Free Foundation, slavery in Sub-Saharan Africa takes the form of forced labour and forced marriage. In Ghana, survey results suggest that there are an estimated 103,300 people enslaved in that country, of which 85 percent are in forced labour, and 15 percent are in forced marriage. For forced labour, the main industries of concern are farming and fishing, retail sales and then manual labour and factory work. In Nigeria, survey results suggest that forced labour is predominantly within the domestic sector, although it was impossible to survey in three regions due to high conflict. In South Africa, the industries most reported in the survey include the commercial sex industry, manual labour industries such as construction, manufacturing and factory work, and drug trafficking.

Anita was 10 years old when she was forcibly circumcised and married off to a 55 year old man in her home country of Kenya. Subjected daily to beatings and sexual violence by her new husband, Anita was eventually able to run away.

I was out grazing the cows one day when my father said it was time to get married. He said I was getting older and there was a man interested in me. A fortnight later, the elders and circumcisers were called and a big celebration planned. I was woken up early the next morning and taken outside to be circumcised. The elders said I’d been given to a man and that he was to be my husband. He was 55.

I was very confused. I was only 10. My mother tried to explain that I had to live like a woman now and not like a child. But what really worried me was knowing how my mother had suffered as a wife. She got beaten a lot in front of us, and I knew she wouldn’t be able to protect me from my new husband.

He already had two wives, and as his third I was expected to look after his goats and cows. A new hut was built for me. Nine months later, because I had still not given him a baby, he began tasking me with all the difficult jobs.

I got the first beating after I lost one of his goats. The second was when he found me resting instead of grazing the cows. The third time was because I’d run away. The next morning, after I took his goats to graze, I decided I had to escape.

I ran into the forest, but had no idea where I was going. There was nothing to eat, and at night I had to sleep in the trees to avoid the animals. After seven days, I found a homestead and was taken in by the Catholic sisters, where I met other girls who had been through the same thing.

I started school in 2013. I have four brothers and four sisters, and none of them went to school; my parents never went to school, either. I hope to be a doctor and get a job to support my family, even though my father is still angry with me for leaving my husband – he had to return all the cows he’d been given as my dowry.


Courtesy of The Guardian