“What’s hard is the feeling of loss. He’s in my head, in my body.”
Susana, Cordoba, Spain

Vanessa

“Singing was associated with the suffering, the violence and the fear.”


Name: Vanessa
Age: 33

When he disappeared from my life, so did my great joy: music. I had been singing more or less professionally since I was five years old. My boyfriend and I had performed together, singing and playing in bars and at weddings. Outwardly, we were that perfect, sweet couple who made a living from their music.


Nyota

“I lied about the rape because I thought my mother would beat me.”


Name:
Nyota
Age:
14

She stands up
during the conversation, she can’t keep her legs together and it hurts too much to sit down. Her mother, Nyabisepela, is furious and wants to tell us what happened. She wants the world to know what happened to her first-born daughter. Nyota also answers our questions. We interview them briefly before we take Nyota to hospital.  


Lucille

“He wanted my nine-year-old to be awake and to watch.”  


Name: Lucille
Age: 46

There was a man in our neighbourhood who was really popular with all the children. He used to invite them round, he played with them, and he let them play games on his computer. He had four computers in a small apartment. One day he invited me round too, to play Nintendo Wii. I thought it was fun, just like my girls, at least while I was conscious.


Martha

“I have to have money so I can protect my child.”

Name: Martha
Age: 14

It was dark. I learned that I could walk into the town centre to get something to eat and clean clothes but I always went back to the railway station.  After a while I was arrested there and locked up. My father came and got me and took me back to Minya but I ran away again. I went back to the railway station and the boys and girls there. I was better off there.

I don’t know what the future holds.


Bushra, Rihana, Parveen and Mary

“We woke up in a room filled with flames and smoke.”


Name:
Bushra, Rihana, Parveen and Mary
Age:
16-23


Maryam

“It’s better to bring the girls up properly than to put them through that. And now my own mother feels the same way!”


Name: 
Maryam Saiid
Age: 32

The midwife had a razor. I bled for a whole week afterwards.
I never talked to my mother about what had happened. It was a forbidden topic of conversation.

I still don’t enjoy sex.


Love

“I became a child soldier to avenge my father’s death.” 


Name:
Love
Age:
22


Themba

“They called me a bloody lesbian and raped me.”  


Name:
Themba
Age:
29


Sheema

“I pray to Allah for forgiveness five times every day.”  


Name:
Sheema
Age:
18 

My sister also works at the brothel. Now that I’ve run away I can’t have any contact with my sister. The brothel madam’s son used to drive us from one customer to another and take all the money.
I’ve done everything the men have asked of me.
I’ve had an abortion.
I pray to Allah for forgiveness five times a day, because I know that what I’ve done is wrong.


Elizabeth

“I asked him to forgive me for making him beat me.”


Name:
Elizabeth
Age:
23


Nur

Nur

“He beat me so hard that I left home many times. The police used to pick me up and make me go home again.”


Name:
Nur
Age: 17

Almost a year had passed since my mother died. She had divorced my father because he was violent, but she died of a heart disease. That’s why I was living with my father.