Born Out Of Rape By Elisha Phiri

Feb 13, 2024 | 2023 Competition, Secondary School Prize, Short Story Competition | 0 comments

The big day finally came, and everyone in our village gathered at Chief Phiri’s house to listen to the radio. They were going to announce the decision about whether or not to allow mandatory abortion when a woman is made pregnant out of rape. This came in as a result of rising cases of rape and untimely deaths of women in our country, due to unsafe abortion. Many people wanted it to be legal because they thought it would make things safer for women. They did not want any more women to get hurt or die from unsafe abortion procedures. The air was filled with tension and hope as we waited to hear the news. I was lucky because my uncle who was residing in the city took me to the parliament building and I had a privilege to watch the president address the nation. The room was big enough to accommodate everyone. It also had fancy lights hanging from the ceiling, and everything looked special. Things happened so fast and the president began his speech……

“As I stand before my fellow citizens”, the weight of the moment pressed upon his chest, and tears welled up in his eyes. “I am deeply sad to realize that my people want to legalize mandatory abortion in this country. There is nothing that I can do to stop you from legalizing it for we are living in a democratic world where the majority rules. Before I append my signature to pass this bill, allow me to share with you a story of a certain young woman which happened many years ago.”

“My dear fellow countrymen and women,” he began, his voice quivering with emotion. A hushed silence fell over the assembly as he gathered courage to continue. “There was a certain woman; not just a woman but a strong woman….,” his eyes met those of his mother, sitting in the front row, her eyes glistening with tears of both pain and pride. The whole audience was confused as they did not know what his next line was but, hopefully, his mother did. He cleared his throat and went on. “This woman, when she was only eighteen years of age, got subjected to an unimaginable horror. She was raped by a madman, a man who knew not the meaning of compassion or decency.”

Gasps and whispers rippled through the audience, but he pressed on. “In our culture, in those dark days, the whispers of tradition dictated that when a woman is made pregnant out of rape, she should terminate the child she carried. A child of a madman was regarded as a curse, an omen of misfortune.”

Tears streamed down his face as he continued narrating the story. We all did not know why he was so emotional, but hopefully his mother did. “The woman had a fire within her. She refused to bow to those whispers. She fled our village, crossed borders, and sought refuge in a foreign land where her child was born and raised.”

The room was filled with a mixture of astonishment and empathy as soon as he revealed the name of the child. “I stand before you today and reveal to you this secret I have kept for fifty-two years. I was born out of rape, and worse enough, my father was a madman.  If my mother had decided to blindly follow the stupid culture of our village, who would have been your president today?” His mother failed to withstand the power of his speech which almost brought her back to the past. His eyes escorted her as she walked outside the hall. He continued with his speech. “I am a living proof that the circumstances of our birth do not define us,” he declared, his voice breaking with emotion. “My mother’s courage and determination, culminated into  who I am today.”

With a deep breath, he continued, “the reason I share this deeply personal story with you all today is to emphasize the effects of legalizing mandatory abortion to women subjected sexual violence. My mother, like every woman, deserved the right to keep the pregnancy and raise the child in her own motherland.”

As he concluded his speech, he wiped away his tears and looked out at the faces before him. “Let us not forget that we are all shaped by the circumstances of our past, but it is our duty to create a present that will lead to a future where every woman should not be forced to terminate the life of an innocent unborn baby, just as my mother did, but since you have already passed this bill, I will assent to it for the love of democracy.” As he was about to scribble his signature on the paper, a hand from the back grabbed him. It was the speaker of the parliament who was also in tears. The speaker of the parliament declared that members of the parliament should vote again, and do wisely.


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