Vanessa Chilango has become the ridicule of her neighbourhood in Chirimba Township, Blantyre, where she lives with her three children.
She is the woman whose video went viral in the course of the week, depicting several men manhandling and undressing her in broad daylight.
Swallowing some words amid sobs, Chilango told Nation on Sunday on Thursday how her world has been shattered.
Everywhere she goes, she says heads turn and some even turn to their phones to show each other the video clip of a gang of men jeering and undressing her in the hub of the commercial city.
“My house has become hell. I cannot leave it without jeers and laughs, especially from my fellow women. I am being called all sorts of names, including ‘prostitute’. Even my children are being taunted. Our lives have been changed forever, and we have no peace.
“I can’t even consider relocating because almost everyone has seen that video. I am bound to be recognised anywhere I go,” she says.
The woman claims her assault began with a robbery attack on her by two men on Monday morning.
She says on that fateful day she was downtown Blantyre, waiting for a friend to travel to Mozambique to buy merchandise for sale.
Chilango says two men approached her and in a flash attacked her and as she struggled to protect her luggage, in which there was K250 000, a smartphone and clothes, one them men sliced her fingers.
“Within minutes, the two men were joined by a gang that started beating me and tore my black skirt and blouse, leaving me almost naked.
“Even my underwear was torn. For what? I don’t know these people and even why I was targeted. Actually, I will never know,” she says while showing bruises and cuts all over her body.
Chilango says jeers; especially from fellow women are haunting her.
She claims most people simply watched her moment of dire need, save for a good Samaritan who picked her up and took her to his car as a woman threw a chitenje into his car.
Chilango later reported the matter to Blantyre Police Station.
The station’s spokesperson Augustus Nkhwazi said the two men, who were arrested for the assault, were on remand, after appearing in court on Wednesday.
Nkhwazi identified Chilango’s attackers as Frank Duncan, 30, and Dickson Kholiwo, 37.
But Chilango’s hope is that justice will be served fully after their trial and conviction.
“I realise that women are not safe or protected. If we can be attacked and judged at the same time, there is little hope for our rights and freedom. There is more to be done in safeguarding our rights,” she says.
Her friend Nancy Phiri described the incident as a disgrace and humiliation for every woman.
“While we may never know exactly what happened, if anybody wants to correct a situation, we do not do so by doing another wrong. Some people should have stopped to help,” she said.
Phiri said women, too, have the freedom to dress the way they want without getting punished for it.
The Blantyre incident comes after another woman, Thoko Mhone, was also beaten up and undressed in Mzuzu on accusations of marital affairs and eight suspects were arrested.
Government and rights activists have since condemned the attacks on the women, with some activists planning demonstrations in the country’s cities.