“My Under-aged Daughter Lost Her Womb To My Husband”
I have Jaruma and her mother’s consent to share this story with every mother to learn from what happened to them.
It was around 3:00a.m. in the morning on that fateful Tuesday. I was on call. The crying of Jaruma’s mother woke us up in the emergency unit. “Please save my daughter’s life” was the repeated statement as she was carrying her daughter, wailing and running inside the emergency unit.
We collected her from her hands and laid her on the bed. Jaruma was semi-conscious. Almost gasping. She was just 13 years old. I saw her intestine coming out from her vagina with bleeding. In this type of case you must do many things simultaneously to save life and time. As I was setting IV line for Jaruma, I was asking the mother for the summary of what happened.
“We did abortion for her”.
“We? You and who?”
She was reluctant to talk. When I roared in my impatience looking at life leaving this small girl’s body on bed. She answered me quickly; “My husband and I.”
“In other words, you are saying you the mother and her father procured abortion for this small girl that landed her in this?”
“Her step father actually, my husband.”
“Okay why will you and the step father take her for abortion? Who was responsible for the pregnancy?”
She was reluctant to talk again. When I looked at her ferociously, she said; “the father, sorry, the step father”.
My brain could not process that but I quickly examined Jaruma. Her intestine was protruding through her vagina. This could only mean one thing. Whosoever did this abortion for her would have passed an instrument through her vagina to her womb then perforated her womb with the instrument and used the instrument to bring her intestine through her perforated womb to her vagina and out. Most likely this was an unsafe abortion. Most likely done by one quack in one remote shop. There was no time to waste if we would not lose her.
I called the senior doctor on call with me and briefed him. He asked me to prepare theatre and got everything and everybody ready for the emergency operation. I asked Jaruma’s mother to get three bags of blood. We got her consent to operate her and we moved to into action immediately. After three hours of rigorous surgery, we were able to save Jaruma’s life but not her womb. Her womb had been torn and turned to ragged pieces. We could not salvage the remains of the little womb left. Part of her intestine too was already dead, the part that was outside her vagina that had been strangulated for lack of blood. We cut the dead part and re-joined the remaining intestine. In all this, we were happy Jaruma lived. We gave her two bags of blood inside the theartre on operation table and we gave the third one outside in the ward after wheeling her out. She came around later. After one week on bed, she started walking. She could eat and move around well. We removed our ropes we used in tying the tummy. She had healed well. We decided to observe her for one more week before discharge.
I had not been able to keep my mind straight since I heard what Jaruma’s mother told me in emergency unit but I had no time to interview her further since that day. So at the end of one week, I was able to invite her inside my consulting room.
“Tell me more about that story you were telling me that day in emergency unit”.
Tears rolled down her cheeks. I told her to go ahead and tell me more. She said she married her first husband 14 years ago and had Jaruma a year later. Her first husband told her not to work. He would provide everything for her. So she was a full house wife for the 11 years the marriage lasted. She went through physical and verbal abuse in the hand of the man before the man finally divorced her three years ago. Her family disowned her, too. She found it difficult to feed herself and her five children from the first marriage. Jaruma was her first child. It was in the midst of this suffering the present husband, Jaruma’s stepfather met her and took her in. He was a divorcee, too. He had been taking care of them for the past three years.
I asked when she got to know he was abusing Jaruma. Long silence. I knew what I was about to hear would likely be shameful for a mother to say. She started crying profusely all over again.
“Doctor, I would not lie to you. It was almost immediately we moved in with him. My daughter told me but I shut her up. She told me several times, but I kept shutting her up for the sake of our survival and shelter. First time I confronted my present husband he threatened me that he would send me and my children out if I dared tell anybody or disturb him again. I have been dying in silence since that day, until three months ago when Jaruma got pregnant.
“We did all to abort the pregnancy for her at home using herbal concoctions, Andrew liver salt, Schweppes, small lime oranges, Sprite etc. There was no abortion,” she said.
I asked who told her all those things she mentioned could abort pregnancy.
“People,” she answered.
I laughed angrily at such level of ignorance.
The story fast forwarded to a nearby village where they went to see the man that helped them get the abortion done in one local pharmacy shop. He assured them that everything was out and well but Jaruma had been wriggling in pains and running temperature from the second day they came back home. Until that night when she saw her intestine protruding through her vagina and she rushed her to the emergency unit.
“Doctor, this was how my 13 years old daughter lost her womb to my husband o”, she said crying profusely.
Since that day she said her husband had disappeared into thin air. I asked her level of education and if she learned any skill? She said she was a secondary school leaver and a tailor but her former husband stopped her from practising the tailoring or doing any work. She had one child for the present husband already. I was lost in utter silence.
Jaruma was very okay after two weeks post-surgery. We discharged her from the hospital bed but she could not go home due to the fact that they had not paid up their hospital bill. So, she was still hanging around the hospital environment. Many times I met her in different food shops around the hospital either in people’s company or alone eating. After three weeks in the hospital, they paid up and the mother came to say good bye to me with Jaruma. I collected their contact so that I could follow Jaruma up with the view of referring her for rehabilitation in our mental health department.
Now I am about to tell you what brought tears to my eyes and sank my wounded soul most, in this whole story. It happened one week after Jaruma and her mother left the hospital environment. I went to eat in one of the food restaurants inside hospital. I sat alone on my table. Next to me was another table surrounded by four men eating and gisting. From their discussion, it seemed they were patients’ relatives that had been in the hospital environment for a while. I heard Jaruma’s name from their discussion. This aroused my curiosity and made me pretend as if I was eating but paying cat ears to their discussion. The things I heard overwhelmed my soul. One of the four men started by saying, “do you know Jaruma finally left the hospital a week ago?”.
The second man said “Wow! I missed that girl. I enjoyed her so much, small but mighty girl.” The third one said “that girl was very sweet in bed.” The fourth man said “I was not able to enjoy her so much like you people.” My soul became paralysed on the spot. I had to fight back my teary eyes.
Apparently, Jaruma had become a sex addict already, perhaps as a result of her stepfather’s three years continuous abuse and her mother’s cover up. Now what do I do to these useless four men who had been busy raping this helpless minor who just had surgery and taking advantage of her fragile and damaged childhood.
I informed the Chief Medical Director, who ordered their arrest to face the consequences of their abominable acts. If at all I might not be able to deal with the beast of a stepfather that started this, I was consoled that I was able to get justice for Jaruma in a little way.
I was able to stop this sex addiction of Jaruma through rehabilitation. I called her and her mother back to the hospital that very day, and referred them to the psychiatry unit. I was able to inform an NGO that helped them financially. She did well in rehabilitation and moved on with her life.
I kept close contact with the family. Occasionally I called to know how Jaruma was doing. The last time I heard about Jaruma from the mother was that she was in 300 Level Medicine in the university. The mother had got government job and at the same time doing her sewing work part-time. The stepfather died of diabetes few years after that incident.
This story happened 12 years ago but till now I am still in contact with Jaruma and her mother. It was recently I was able to get consent from both of them to share this story.
Recently Jaruma asked me the big question about which option was left for her as per child bearing in view of her womb loss. I counselled her to plan for adoption of as many children as she wanted and she had to let her future husband know her harrowing childhood experience and absence of her womb
Many lessons have been running through my mind from this story which I will like to share with you:
Lesson one: As a woman never ever allow any man to tell you not to work and earn a living. I am not in any way saying you should not be submissive to your husband but work I plead with you. This is my opinion and I am entitled to it. Women empowerment is key to so many things in marriage and our society.
Lesson two: Never for any reason cover anybody, even a family member of a crime as terrible as rape. The consequences on the victim are unimaginable. Help them get justice no matter what and who is involved.
Lesson three: If you are a victim of rape, know that this is not the end of the road for you in life. You can still move on in life to have a great career and future you rightly deserve. Do not harm yourself and do not commit suicide. Rather seek help physically, mentally, spiritually and socially. Whatever you have lost, God can replace!
(Please feel free to add your own lessons learnt from the true life story. Thank you.)
…Adewumi works in the Department of Family Medicine, Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, AKTH, Kano, Nigeria. Follow his page on Facebook “FROM INSIDE MY CONSULTING ROOM “; his health page on YOUTUBE and INSTAGRAM @doctorhealtheducation
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