We all know of the many medical ways that the HIV Virus is transmitted. Here is the story of how one young lady learned.
It was a clear hot Sunday afternoon around 14:00 hrs. Mulenga, a seventeen year old secondary school girl child, had just left her
auntie's house. The street was empty and Mulenga stood alone waiting at the mini bus stop. A ghost white taxi (an illegal
unauthorized taxi) drove past and made a U turn coming back to a stop a few meters away from where she stood. Mulenga waved the
taxi off with a sideways shake of her hand, palm up, because she just had enough money for the fare bus home. The taxi driver
motioned to her anyway, and with a shrug she walked over to let him know that there was no way she could afford a taxi in the middle
of the month and on a day without a rain cloud in the sky!
As Mulenga reached the taxi she saw two men get out of the passenger side back door. Thinking they were just going to pass by, she
leaned down, to window level, and told the taxi driver she did not have the money for a taxi. He just smiled at her. It was then that she felt
the pain in her back and turning, saw the fist coming into her face. In pain, she tried to cry out but was picked up and pushed in the back of
the taxi. Someone pulled her by her wrist across the backseat and then pushed her down to the floor putting his foot on her neck. She
was told to shut up and stop struggling if she wanted to live! The taxi moved off quickly .
The taxi moved around the city, only stopping for the three men to trade places taking turns to hold her down and to climb on top of her.
Mulenga fought, cried, and begged her rapists to stop. They laughed and continued to drive around the city. They abused her in ways she
never thought possible. All the time they joked and laughed about liking her small school girl size. The voice of the driver encouraged his
back seat friends with suggestions. The radio, which once blasted out music now turned to chaotic noise.
Mulenga closed her eyes to try to shut off what was happening but the pain continued for what she felt like an eternity. After and hour and a half the taxi came to
an abrupt halt and she was dragged by her feet out of the taxi and smashed onto the street in front of the very mini bus stop where she had been abducted
from. As the taxi pulled away the men laughed and said: “We have gotten away with it again!”
Mulenga lay in the street trying to pull the torn pieces of her Sunday dress around her. Beaten, bleeding, and raped into submission, Mulenga eventually
crawled behind the bus stop and hid until her sobs became loud enough to be noticed by home-bound travelers who took pity on her.
Mulenga shared that, at the insistence of her family, she never reported the incident, because it was considered shameful. Weeks later, she came to be tested
for HIV. She had earlier tested positive for two sexually transmitted infections and was fearful of having contracted HIV from the gang rape. Fortunately she
tested negative for the HIV Virus and has continued to test negative over the past year. However, Mulenga is Hepatitis B Positive (+) for the rest of her life.
Mulenga has fought harder, after the gang rape, than most would believe. She has to force herself to leave the house and daily swallows down the fear of
being raped again so that is she able to go back to school where young men unwittingly still made remarks about her school girl size. She had to fight to be
able to once again wait for a mini bus, and then, to be crowded into it being pushed up against men without spending the trip shaking and sweating. Mulenga
has fainted on occasion but now is as she says “tougher and more enduring these days!” She still fears the night, sleeping with a lit candle close by, even
though she was attacked during the day. The men of her family do their best to be available to travel with her even if it is just to the market or to shops. Her
family now encourages her. Mulenga stated that this makes her feel less betrayed than when they first tried to cover it all up like it never happened. She also
said that she knows people had to see or hear what was going on in the taxi while they drove around the city and that because they did not help her, she feels
betrayed and worthless. What if she was their school age daughter? How would they feel? How can she now ask to have a White Wedding!
With today's knowledge, we can today help women to be Rape Survivors instead of Rape Victims it is heartbreaking to hear that the shame of being labeled
by society still holds women back from receiving the help that they need to continue on with life after rape. In my book, Rape Survivors have so many internal,
emotional and physical hurdles to get over that to add extra ones borne of our fear of loosing face in the community, in fact does amount to betrayal.
Let us continue to fight to make our neighborhoods safe for everyone. Let us encourage the Victim Support Units of our Police Departments, so they, along
with the Medical Support Units, can give assistance to those in need. And let us help each other that imprisons us in our homes and in our minds.
Despite all the efforts of the Police the Ghost White Taxi is still out there!
To this day Mulenga refuses to ride in a taxi, even when male family members travel with her.
This strong, young, rape survivor along with the countless others who have suffered similar
abuse need our prayers and support. Please, take time to say a prayer for them today. Talk
about the abuse and if possible, get involved where and when you can. We all need to know
that we are not alone.