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Thursday, 31 May 2012

Deaf girl survives rape and forced marriage

By Dennis Kipkirui

A deaf and orphaned girl survived rape and forced marriage after being rescued from the brutal hands of a rapist-turned-husband in Ol Kalou Town of Nyandarua County. 

Gladys Wambui (Her real name withheld because of age) is a deaf and orphaned girl who completed her KCPE exams last year, 2011 at Sipili School for the Deaf. She scored 140 marks. After her exams she travelled to Ol Kalou to stay with her grandmother.

A billboard of Sipili School for the Deaf
 Had she known that her journey to Ol Kalou would end tragically she would have opted to remain in Sipili area of Laikipia County. It all started one evening when the village of Ol Kalou was mourning their dead and Wambui’s grandmother decided to console with the fellow countrymen. Since the hearing handicap had already taken toll of Wambui, her grandmother was equally not spared because she lacked the skill of sign language to communicate with her orphaned grandchild.

One fateful evening, the old lady left to mourn with the family which had lost their loved one without informing the young girl because she did not know how to explain to her using sign language. When Wambui discovered the absence of her grandma, she was driven by curiosity and ventured into an engulfing darkness to check what was happening in the neighborhood. After she arrived at the homestead where people were mourning, she mingled freely with them while learning what was going on.

Few metres from her grandmother stood two men who had noticed that the girl was deaf. They lured the girl to a certain place within the compound and kidnapped her. She was taken to a house in Ndundori where she was raped by the two men. After the ordeal, the heinous men did not release her but was restricted within their hideout.

The world of the deaf girl crumbled further when one of the rapists decided to take her in as a wife. Without the consent of this minor, the man assumed his new marital role and continued with their ‘new family life’. Wambui had no choice but to play the game using the cards offered by the new husband. Impressed by the turn of events, the bridegroom decided to take his bride for an outing in Ol Kalou town.

An artist's impression of a deaf girl.
It was while at Ol Kalou town that she made up her mind to rescue herself from the brutal hands of the rapist-turned -husband. She remembered the life skills once taught at her former school and began to scream attracted a good Samaritan ran to her rescue.  A huge crowed also gathered around the two, and they were latter taken to Ol Kalou Police Station. 

At the police station, the man claimed that the girl was his wife and to the amazement of many the police almost bought the idea. This was because they were not able to understand her sign language and could easily take the argument of the man.

When Wambui physically expressed her disappointment, the police changed their mind. They took her to Ol Kalou School for the Disabled where they met a nun who knew sign language. The nun helped the police to trace the Principal of Sipili School for the Deaf, Wambui’s former school.

When the Principal arrived at Ol Kalou Police Station, she narrated her ordeal to him and explained all that had happened to her. The police locked up the man and he is facing justice at the court of law.

Wambui has so far received a chance to proceed with her secondary school education at Rev. Muhoro School for the Deaf in Nyeri County.

 Like her story, her education is a tall order since she is an orphan and unable to raise the requisite fee. Laikipia Rural Voices (LRV) is appealing to well wishers to come to her aid to enable this young, deaf and orphaned girl build a bright future. 

The former teachers of Wambui through LRV are asking members of the society to learn sign language break communication barriers with the deaf.

(Additional information by Sammy Kirumba-Teacher Sipili School for the Deaf).


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