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Testimonies from Zambia’s Girls Featured in "Suffering in Silence"
(Human Rights Watch has assigned pseudonyms to all children mentioned in the report to protect their privacy)

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My mother and father died, I don’t know how. They were sick for a long time. I went to live with my auntie; I was in grade six, and stayed in school. Auntie [actually a stepsister] wasn’t married, but she had two children…. Stepbrother was older, like a father. He raped me. He said if I tell some people, he’d kill me. My teacher at school, she told me she’d help me find a place to stay. She took me to the hospital to check me. I was bleeding from the vagina for three days. I told the stepsister—she wanted to hit me. She said her husband wants to kill me. She said “go find your own place.” That’s when I told the teacher. The teacher brought me here.
--Melissa B., 15, at a Lusaka orphanage, June 1, 2002.

[After my parents died,] I went to live with my uncle and aunt—they used to mistreat me. I had to fetch water from long distances, and I didn’t used to eat most of the day. I used to get sick, and nobody looked after me. My uncle used to beat me with electricity wires. Before I went to live with my uncle and auntie, I stayed with my big sister’s mom and my brother used to take me in the bush, then he raped me. I was eight or nine. I was scared—he said “I’m going to beat you if you ever tell anyone.” He was 14 or 15.
-- Melanie Y., 12, Messiah Orphanage, Lusaka, May 19, 2002

After my mother died, I went to my mother’s mother. In 2001, she died, so I stopped school, because I had no more sponsor. My brother was six, and also had to stop. Then we went to my auntie….Most girls find that they start keeping up with [having sex with] stepfathers or uncles. Most are raped. They have no say. They think if you bring them to the police, there will be no one to keep me. So they keep quiet. Older men give a lot money—girls think they’ll have what they need, because of all the poverty. A friend of mine, Mildred, went with this big man.

He gave her a lot of money, she started looking nice, not like she was an orphan from a poor family. After he left her, she went for an HIV test, and it was positive. Now she has baby girl….Other friends have been raped by their uncles—they fear their aunties will chase them out…. Most girls stop going to school after the death of their parents. Some decide to go to streets.
--Patricia M., 16, Umoyo Training Center, Lusaka, May 22, 2002

Girls are at greater risk than boys for HIV because the man only has the power.
--Beth S., 17, a person living with HIV/AIDS, Lusaka, June 1, 2002