• Fri. Aug 12th, 2022

Raped in front of her husband

ByRandall B. Phelps

Jan 4, 2022

I dread the evenings.

This is when all the bad things happen. When your house is raided by activists, when you are physically or sexually assaulted, when your daughter’s very life is threatened.

In just over a decade, I have witnessed bombings, fires, and multiple trips on my way to flee my home.

On the way from my home in South Darfur, Sudan, to my refuge in Tripoli, Libya, I never chose where to stay. It is still violence and war that drove me away, starting with my first of many trips in 2009 when fighting and fires ravaged my village.

In Libya, I was smuggled in last year with my husband and our baby in the back of a truck carrying cattle. When we thought we were about to reach safety, we were arrested and detained because we did not have proof of identity. We had lost our papers in the last fire that broke out at home and forced us to leave Sudan.

In detention, we spent 21 days. The guards served us a loaf of bread for breakfast and plain pasta for dinner. I was raped while my husband was beaten next to me. My daughter got so sick that she almost died of diarrhea.

We found a way to escape, to be stopped at a checkpoint on the way to Tripoli. The officials asked for money, which we did not have; so they took my husband instead. I haven’t heard from him since.

Today I just want to avoid men with bad intentions, homelessness or death.

Like when I thought I had finally found a job with a family in Tripoli, but soon realized that there was no family to start with. It was a lie that the man who gave me the job invented. He locked me in and threatened to keep my daughter in a bag until she choked, unless I gave it up.

Potential refugee lawyer

I think back to when I went to college. I wanted to become a lawyer. I still do.

I knew I had no chance without education. I know everything I had built was destroyed, but I never stopped dreaming. Even when I lost my brother and sister in the war and my legs were damaged beyond treatment, I continued to learn.

It is this hope that one day you will have a second chance that keeps you going. This is what many of us refugees with no place to live think. Whether on a boat at sea or in a forest tent, we dream of a secure and dignified future.

Refugees are mistreated because countries see them as a burden, especially in countries in transition like Libya. It is only a matter of time before you are thrown into custody, forced to do forced labor, eat rotten food, and suffer physical and emotional abuse.

I can talk about what I have been through and I know that I am not alone. This is why, for refugees, Europe is the bearer of hope; hope for a better future and equal opportunities.

A refugee would never leave his home if it had not been for violence and war. It is the most difficult decision one can make. When they lose their families and that sense of security, that’s what drives people out. This is what forces them to live the life I lead.

Many people take the step of risking their lives by getting on the boat to find safety elsewhere. I haven’t thought about it myself, but I can understand why people put themselves in danger. We can also be desperate.

As long as we are refugees, until we can prove who we are, and as long as we have no place to belong, we will be stripped of all rights, struggling to survive from day to day.

If you are a country that can afford to welcome a desperate person who has lost their home, my message is don’t say no to saving lives. I urge these countries in Europe and beyond to open their arms to those who have gone through the most miserable circumstances and had no choice.

* The name has been changed to protect the identity of the author. Details provided by the Norwegian Refugee Council.