A 14 year old mother struggles as a victim of incest to balance raising her newborn baby and experiencing her own childhood. She plays with her hair accessories, braiding her hair in different styles, until it’s time for her to feed her baby. This teen mother fights a constant battle to accept she is no longer just a child; she’s the mother of her own father’s child.
Victims of incest are most often unable to distinguish between expressions of affection and abuse, resulting in them not taking preventive measures. Victims themselves often refuse to believe they’ve been sexually abused until they become teen mothers.
Raped at the age of 17, a teenage mother is forced in to isolation after being shunned by
her community and disowned by her family. She was the youngest daughter in a family of five; she thought at least her siblings would support her and take care of her after she was victimized by her neighbor. She was wrong. They all disowned her and chased her out from home, calling her a disgrace, a dishonor and a burden to their family.
In Sri Lanka, it is estimated that 6.5% girls are pregnant or have given birth before their 19th birthday.
They dream of running back to school every single day; to sit in class and listen to their favourite lessons, to chat with their friends over lunch and to sing and dance during free time. They wish they could go back to their normal childhood where their biggest worry was the year end exams at school. But then, they realize their uniforms are too tight around their bellies, their swollen feet too big and painful to fit in to their school shoes.
Teen mothers often drop out from school during their pregnancy due to physical difficulties, difficulties in concentration and social stigmatization.
13 year old girl struggles to overcome her memories of violence at home. She often gets flashbacks of her father beating her mother, her brother bleeding with injuries and herself tied to a chair next to the stove. Her attempts to run away from her past, brings her nowhere close to her present or future. Her desperation and isolation not only signifies her frustration but also her attempt to find her safe haven.
Domestic violence affects both mother and child both physically and psychologically.
(This article was originally published in www.kiyanna.lk. That site is now changed to www.ivoice.lk owned by SDJF and supported by UNFPA)