By Winnie Osika
“My mother forced me to sleep with her boyfriend in exchange for my school lunch money” says Jane Mary*, a 13 year old pupil at a school in Dandora, Nairobi.
When I first meet Jane, she is distracted and confused as she gives me worrying looks. She does not seem to know my intentions. After introducing myself, she pulls her socks up, probably because of the loose worn out elastic. She later swings her legs from right to left as she looks down.
She is very shy but I later distract her with a tap on her back followed by a rather rhetorical question just to get her attention.
Beatings from ‘Uncle’
She is clearly uncomfortable with the stares from other pupils playing a few meters from where we are.
Only after a little chit chat does she agree to open up with a life story that still sends shivers down her little spine.
Raised by a single mother in Kasarani, Jane describes their lives as a hell right here on earth.
Her mother had to struggle to feed her and her brother. Taking them to school was a bigger challenge.
Her mother only depended on the small businesses she had set up.
“My parents separated long time ago. It is my mother who struggled to bring us up,” she says.
When Jane was 12, they moved to another house in Kasarani but this time, with a man who she later came to find out was her mother’s boyfriend.