BY ARTWELL CHINGWARA SITHOLE
ON a sunny day in Gariremwo village, as women and children were fetching water, twelve year old Thelma Semwayo (not her real name), arrived at the borehole to fetch water for her grandmother.
Most people stopped what they were doing and looked at her. Some started to whisper and laugh as she stood still holding her 20 litre bucket. This treatment forced Thelma to abandon fetching water and cry all the way back home.
Thelma was a victim of rape. It wasn’t out of choice or recklessness but evil men who broke into her grandmother’s hut when Thelma was alone as her granny had gone for a funeral in the same village.
The continuous mockery she was receiving from villagers latter led to decide to take her own life by drinking poison. Fortunate enough, her grandmother arrived at the scene early and administered some home remedies that fight poison before she was taken to hospital where she later recovered.
Thelma received some counseling from the nurses. Upon returning home, Platform for Youth and Community Development Gender Activist visited Thelma and provided more counseling sessions which helped Thelma a lot.
Thelma’s case is just but one in a million, if not billion of what is taking place in the world.
Discrimination and suicide at glance
Discrimination and suicide are serious societal problems. There is a lot of discrimination and stigmatisation of rape victims in worldwide. This has forced many victims not to report rape cases to the family and/or law enforcement agencies.
Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among 15-29 years old in the world of which seventy seven percent of global suicides occur in low and middle income countries.
Every year, 703 000 people take their own life and there are many more who attempt suicide. Every suicide is a tragedy that affects a family, a community and a country. It leaves long lasting effects on the people left behind.
Proposed way forward
Communities need to be educated so as to denounce discrimination towards the victims as this may lead to sufferer commit suicide as Thelma did.
However, suicides are preventable with timely, evidence based and low cost interventions. For national responses to be effective, a comprehensive multi-sector suicide prevention strategy is needed.