The girl that I knew


She was only 13
Or maybe she was or 12, or 14 or 15 years old
It does not matter,
Oh it matters
She was a child

I knew her as a class mate.
An older girl, I thought.
Sometimes I admired the older girls
They seemed to have more confidence
Or maybe not
Tishala was not very confident
The teachers made fun of her
She was not “bright enough” in class
The boys made fun of her,
She was not ‘cool’
Classmates avoided her
She was smelly
Her confidence waned
Poverty did not allow her to afford good perfume
Or water to bathe everyday
Or clean underpants every day
And who took care of her?
Did everyone not see
She was a child

Tishala is pregnant!
Tishala is an embarrassment
How could she get herself pregnant?
Everyone seemed to ask
I got confused,
I did not realize anyone can get themselves pregnant!
Rape.
Abuse.
Violence
Those terms were never used
She was to blame
Despite that she was a child.

The girl I knew,
Was a friend.
I did not visit her home,
or meet with her parents
But she was a friend
We were in the same class
Only that mattered
And she had a good heart
She made me laugh
That is all that mattered for friendship
I was a child
She was a child
Our friendship was easy
For we were children

Years later, realization dawned on me
She did not get herself pregnant
May be she was raped
Or maybe she was sexually exploited
In exchange for some perfume
Why did nobody mention this possibility?
Why did nobody treat her as a child?
Why did she lose her right to education?
Why did nobody mention
That she was a child

This year as we commemorate #16daysofactivism
I dedicate my thoughts to girls like Tishala
Girls who lost their life’s dreams without any support
I stand with her
I stand with girls struggling to claim a space
I stand with girls abused and rejected
I stand with girls who do not have someone to tell them
You are a child!

This girl that I knew,
Motivates me to do my part
She never escape my mind
It has been so many years
She is now an adult
Possibly with daughters of her own
Or grand daughters
For their sake,
I wake up each day
Determined to do my part
To make my little contribution
In the life of such girls
And to get inspired by the power of girls
I stand with her
For
She
Is
A
Child
And deserves to be treated
As a child

Sophia Ngugi, 2019

Share your commitment to stand with women on @WorldPulse: https://www.worldpulse.com/istandwithher
IStandWithHer #16Days #LogOnRiseUp

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