Anny Mayila, 48 years old, is a single mother. She raises alone eight children, 4 girls and 4 boys – aged between 27 and 16 years. To feed her family, she joined an association of market-gardening mothers in Kinsenso where she lives. They have been market-gardening on a site called “Liberation”. These days, she told us, they can no longer carry out this job freely because of increasing insecurity.
“Even if I wanted to do so, I cannot start my gardening work very early, around 5.a.m., or finish after 7.p.m”.
In fact, youths, mostly boys between 15 and 30 years old, invest streets and whereabouts surrounding this site from 7.00 pm till early in the morning. They carry with them machetes, scissors and knives. They attack, indiscriminately, any passer-by, extorting money, jewels, cell phones or any other valuable, after beating him or her, hitting with the machete at the head, arm, back or leg. And late at night, she added,
” those young gangs bring girls in our fields and use them as brothels, and our vegetables serve as beds. You may understand that the following day, we find plants smashed and destroyed. It is too hard on us who are already poor to redo the work all over again”.
Last June, four of those young men kidnapped a 12 year old girl who was passing near this site around 7.00 p.m. They took her in a house under construction and raped her. Passers-by heard the girls crying, went in and took them by surprise and recognized them since they live in the same neighborhood. The case was taken to the city’s mayor, but the girl’s family, not willing to expose their reputation as well as their daughter’s, asked that perpetrators pay $1500 in compensation. The families of the perpetrators paid this sum and the boys were released the same week, although national law stipulates a sentence of 5-20 years for the crime of rape. According to Annie, families’ extreme poverty, children dropping out from school, youth’s unemployment, are the root causes of this increasing insecurity.
“If the State could only reestablish order so that we may enjoy our freedom to walk at any time without fear of harassment of any kind from any one. If we, mothers, cannot go out to feed families, our children won’t survive” she added.
Her wish is that ActionAid, which has accepted to accompany them, may team with them to advocate for security from the local and national authorities.