Tehila began with a family going to Zambia.
Tehila started with a vision to protect children.
Tehila became real when the co-founders met Precious.
This is her story….
Precious was raped by two young men on her way home from school. She was walking past our office and had been to the market to buy vegetables for her mother. She was alone and 15 years old.
She came to our office for help. The rape was reported to the police and we were asked to support her in court. We had no idea what to expect. The court was full of people, attending for different offences. It was noisy and a little chaotic.
Precious sat with us and her parents at the back of the court. Her father didn’t speak. Maybe he felt shame or anger – we weren’t sure. Precious was quiet, tearful, scared and distressed. Her mother sat in silence. The difficult scene unfolded.
Precious was asked to stand and walk to the front of court. Everyone stared at her and a silence descended upon the room. She began to give her account and was repeatedly told to speak louder. She stuttered in English, barely able to communicate her thoughts. Precious attempted to raise her voice but looked lost, oppressed within a system that does not appear to be designed for children.
We felt helpless and shocked as the judge asked Precious to identify her abuser by walking across the room and touching his shoulder. Composed, Precious completed the task. It was harrowing to witness. It was as if she was being abused all over again.
Weeks have gone by, months have passed and her case continues to be adjourned. We wonder whether Precious will be denied her right to justice.
Precious’ story is not unique. So many children are enduring the worst forms of child abuse in Zambia. Yet, many don’t speak out. There is a silent emergency which requires a response. Action must be taken.