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When child negligence cuts deeper than rape

ABUSED 9- YEAR- OLD PLEADS FOR PROTECTION

Three years have gone by since acts of sexual violations against a 9 –year- old orphan of Samedupi settlement in North West district were brought to the attention of government officials, but to date no protection measures have been provided for her.

Now aged 11, and having dropped out of school four years ago, she remains in the same environment and out of school.

“They promised to find a boarding school for her, but they never returned to fulfill their promises,” explained the girl’s grandmother this week in an interview.

Asked why she is not taking the responsibility of taking her grandchild back to school, the woman only said, “Aah what do I know about the process when I personally have never been to school? I do not even know where to start. I am waiting for government people because they said they will come back for her.”

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In July 2018, a neighbour allegedly raped the girl after her aunt sent her to his house to ask for cooking oil.

The suspect, Peter Keakopa, 46, is currently awaiting trial for the rape case before Maun magistrate court.

Although the girl allegedly accused one other elder from the neighbourhood of having raped her as well, the matter was not brought before court.

In legal terms they call her an imbecile, but Keakopa was found mentally sane to stand trial, which starts next month.

Catching up with the family this week to find out if things have improved at home, the little girl explained that, “At least nobody is forcing me to do bad things with them anymore, but I still want to return to school.”

She added that she knows that without education, life may be difficult for her when she grows up.

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“Maybe they have forgotten about me but I want to be like other children and go to school every morning. I wish to put on school uniform and carry nice school-bag too and play with friends.”

Although it is her right, she had to send a plea for protection from violence, abuse and negligence of which she feels the brunt.

The social worker responsible for the area couldn’t be reached for comment as he was said to be out of office while the council chairperson for Maun Administration Authority, Vepaune Moreti did admit that the system is failing the girl and that the consequences of it can have a very negative impact on her development.

“It is unfortunate that nothing has been done to help the child to date and I am not really in a position to comment further as I do not know the reason for the delay, but I will follow it up,” said Moreti.

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