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Sunday, 22 October 2017 01:57

Mother, Am I Pregnant?

Way down the south of Vietnam, in a poor seaside village in Ben Tre Province, a 6 year old innocently asked her mother "am I pregnant?? My friends at school say that I am...what does 'pregnant' mean?"
This is the innocence that still resonates from this innocent child, who was raped on her way back from school. She was a special case, one that OBV had visited and suggested to take in to help her with her recovery and education.
Very quickly the newspapers printed her story, and she became the central point of gossip among her friends in school and her neighbours in her tiny village. They came to see her, not out of concern, but for gossip's sake. They would stare and point and whisper behind their hands. Her friends were no different. Some whispered behind her back 'oh she was raped'. Others blatantly mocked her, telling her she was pregnant.
She was still so innocent, so unaware of the seriousness of what had happened to her. As gossip continued to circulate around her, she couldn't ignore the pointing and whispering any longer and her curiosity started to kick in. " I pregnant? What is 'pregnant'? Why is everybody pointing and looking at me?"
Her mother shared with us, that her little girl had been having trouble sleeping lately. Nightmares would startle her from her sleep and she would be too frightened to sleep again. Allowing OBV to take her in would be the best solution available to her. To keep her away from prying eyes and gossiping mouths of her neighbours and peers at school. 
Dropping out of school is sometimes the only solution for victims of rape in these villages, where gossip can ruin a family. I knew in this instance, the other option of removing her from this toxic environment, and placing her in a loving home, so that she could start school in an area where nobody knew about her past...this was possibly the only option that would give this girl a chance to rewrite her future to be anything she wants to be.
Ben Tre, September 18th 2017
Translated by Jacqueline Huynh and Mr. Phung.  The original version in Vietnamese entitled "Mẹ ơi, Con Có Bầu Rồi Hả Mẹ?"

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