The 12-year-old girl giggles and places her hands over her mouth as she sits down for an interview with Nation on Sunday in Nsanje.
Dressed in a brown cloth up to her chest, she carries a blue plastic bag with K100 worth of uncooked dried fish and an empty bottle of distilled water.
The five-month-pregnant minor appears unbothered by what she is carrying or the risks she faces after falling into the predicament way too early.
Her older sister, 20, also pregnant, does not hide her displeasure. The family has just “discarded” the burden on her.
Her husband too wants nothing to do with her for accepting the girl into their fold.
“She was brought to me two weeks ago after being chased from our uncle’s place in Chididi. Initially, he took her to my elder sister, but she too decided against keeping her. She brought her to me,” said the sister.
She alleged that the uncle’s two sons, aged 25 and 23, were taking turns to defile her sister at their home where the girl was living since the death of their parents in 2008.
The youngster apparently was not aware of the pregnancy until last month when her body betrayed her. She does not even have a clue of who impregnated her, but swears that it was the older cousin who was sleeping with her more regularly.
“I slept in a room next to the brothers and most nights it was the same issues of sex. They told me not to tell anyone, so I kept quiet,” said the girl, whose identity we cannot reveal for legal reasons.
The sister who is keeping her has decided to stand by her helpless sibling even if it means losing her marriage. She has since reported the matter to police.
The girl is now being monitored at Nsanje District Hospital because her health has been compromised by the pregnancy.
Nsanje district health officer Dr Medison Matchaya said while the baby is fine, the mother’s body is too small to complete the process of delivery.
Matchaya said the girl’s organs are not fully developed, a situation he said could lead to fistula.
“She cannot lie flat and has breathing difficulties because her abdominal cavity is competing with the diaphragm. Psychologically, she is not aware what is happening. She is unprepared as a mother,” he said.
Matchaya said another reason for admitting her to the hospital was to secure the baby because in the absence of other evidence, police asked for a DNA test because the brothers are denying involvement in the crime.
“We can only facilitate the test after birth. Again, with the distance from her home to the hospital, it was important to keep her close in case of an emergency,” he said.
The 12-year-old girl is not the only endangered mother at the hospital. Within the maternity walls is a 16-year-old girl in her third trimester.
She, too, was defiled, allegedly by her teacher.
“He would come to the house I shared with my younger sister. He promised that he would help me skip Standard Seven if I passed Standard Six examinations. I accepted the offer although I knew he was married,” said the girl.
Her distraught mother did not mince words about her disappointment with the man responsible for her daughter’s pregnancy. She accused him of destroying her future and destabilising her family, particularly now that she has been at the hospital since February this year waiting on the girl.
“My husband caught the culprit red-handed on August 33 last year. It was the cries of our young daughter who shared the room with the girl that raised the alarm. When my husband checked on her, he found the teacher on top of our daughter.
“It took the cooperation of the neighbourhood to catch the teacher after which we took him to several traditional authorities. But now the case is with the police,” she said.
The teacher allegedly denied responsibility after the matter was reported to police.
The two families are asking well-wishers to help them with K120 000 each for a DNA test to help bring the culprits to book.
Nsanje Police officer-in-charge Sekani Tembo said she was not aware of the two cases. But Tembo said she would follow up on the issues.
Executive director of Girls Empowerment Network (Genet) Faith Phiri said defilement defeats efforts to keep girls in school and away from child marriages.
“We strongly condemn the violence that girls are facing in schools and at home. The role of teachers is to protect them and not abuse,” said Phiri.