This account was told by Dayani* to Youth Action Network Sri Lanka, and contains details of sexual assault that some may find upsetting.
I was separated from my parents in India when I was small and so came to live with my grandparents in Sri Lanka. As soon as I turned 18 and left school, they wanted to marry me off. I didn’t want to marry at such a young age. I was young and I had dreams – I wanted to work, to study, to really live my life before becoming a wife. I didn’t see any other option that to leave my grandparents, and I moved to Colombo to seek the life I wanted.
I was alone and making a fresh start. I was lucky to find a job soon and it paid well enough to allow me to continue my studies and live. I was boarding with a friend and I was feeling good.
As a part of my work, I had to attend an event. That was when I first met R. R happened to be a friend of a friend, so I met him on multiple occasions and he was clearly interested in me, yet I took my time and did not give him any indication of interest or commitment. After spending time together, my interest and affection for him began to grow and eventually developed into more intense feelings of love.
He planned the whole thing
One day, we went to the beach together. We were teasing and pushing each other by the water, and I got wet by the waves. I was not in a position to travel on public transport with wet clothes and I told him I needed to change. We went to a shop to get some clothes and then we had to think of a place to get changed. He said he knew a place and he took me to a place where there were rooms. He got access to a room – we didn’t even have to show our identity – and it became clear to me that he had been here before as the staff seemed to know him.
When I went inside the room, I asked him to wait outside, as I would finish dressing soon and meet him after. He didn’t listen to me. He overrode my wishes, and raped me. I realized now that he had planned the whole thing. Almost everything. From the beginning.
It took me a few months of not having my period to realise that I was pregnant. I was almost four months into it. I felt absolutely helpless and I didn’t know what to do. I was raped and I didn’t want to go through with this pregnancy. I wasn’t ready, I was in the city alone, and I was in no condition to support myself.
Alone, depressed, devastated
I contacted R and he told me he would get me the pills for a medical abortion. I somehow got the money together and gave it to him for the pills, but he disappeared with the money.
Then I sold a gold chain I had to make the money to try for the pills again, yet going through this medical abortion did not work. I was alone, depressed, and devastated.
We are working to ensure no one goes through a horrifying ordeal like this again. IPPF, directly and through its hosted Safe Abortion Action Fund (SAAF) partners, delivers a range of abortion related services, including pre- and post-abortion counselling, surgical and medical abortion, and treatment for incomplete abortion. Masitula, a mother-of-two and sex worker from Uganda is one of those who have benefited from this support through SAAF – read her story now.
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Through a network of contacts, I finally found a place where I would be able to terminate my pregnancy. It was extremely costly and I had to ask for help not just from friends but also from strangers because I could not afford it myself. I was scared, feeling insecure about my life and my safety, yet I didn’t feel as though I had any alternative but to go ahead with a potentially life-threatening procedure.
I experienced many physical complications following this. Additionally, I was tackling the mental strain of feeling hatred towards R and what he had done to me. I would see him leading his normal and comfortable life amidst all my pain. I was going through trauma and there were times when I wanted to end my life. To end it all.
No faith left
I didn’t want to share my story with anyone because people would judge me. They would blame me for putting myself in this condition – for leaving my grandparents, for not agreeing to the marriage, for living alone in Colombo, for having a boyfriend, for wearing the clothes I wore, for being raped, and for undergoing an abortion.
My family, society, culture, religion, legal setting, the patriarchy and the oppression has made me feel as though I am the perpetrator. I don’t have faith in life, love or people.
It will take me years to trust a man again and to forget what happened to me. Honestly, I don’t know whether I will be able to ever forget what I went through. I was raped and I was in no condition to report it. I was faced with a forced pregnancy. I was a victim of the law.
*Dayani's name has been changed to protect her identity.