Binta: female, Sierra Leonean

Story from Eva Hezemans

I met Binta in a shelter for teenage Mums in Utrecht. She is nineteen years old and has a three month old baby son. Binta whispers and does not look you in the eyes. She does not talk spontaneously.

Binta was born in Sierra Leone, where she lived with her parents. As a child she had a good life, her Mum took good care for her, she was a lovely Mum. Then, during the war her Dad died. Binta does not say how he died. When Binta reached the age of 15, her mother became ill and passed away. Binta has been to primary school, but after primary school she had no further education.

From the moment her Mum died, an uncle was responsible for Binta and her sister. The uncle forced Binta’s sister to marry but her sister refused. The uncle hit her so hard that she was seriously injured. Because of a lack of money it was not possible to visit a doctor and so her sister died of her injuries. Now it was Binta’s turn to marry. She was forced to marry an old man. After just a few months this husband died. Then her uncle forced her to marry an even older man. Binta escaped to her stepmother, the second wife of her father.

In this village she met a Dutch man, who showed compassion, by telling her how sorry he was for her being so young and having so many troubles. He promised her that he would help her if she would go with him to the Netherlands. Binta did not trust him, but the man visited the stepmother and convinced her of his good intentions. Binta went with him to the Netherlands, where she then was locked up in a flat. The Dutch man brought men, with whom she was forced to have sex. After four weeks she escaped this situation, and after several shelters Binta came into Utrecht.

Now Binta has many physical and mental problems. She feels pain all-over her body and she has a lot of heavy headaches. She sleeps badly and has nightmares.

Binta does know the father of her son, but she does not know him well. They do not have a relationship. The father did not see his son, and Binta does not know how or where to contact him. Though she is very happy with her son. She is very proud seeing him learning new things. She sings the songs for him that her mother sang for her when she was a child. Sometimes her son cries, and that troubles her. Sometimes she has headaches and finds it very difficult when her son does not want to sleep and cries. How will this mother and son find a good way to live?