Dirty [published]

Dirty by LaYinka SanniHer eyes remained fixed on her hands. Hands that she rubbed carefully, washing them with her unspoken desire to be cleansed and freed from the bondage she was placed under. She spoke little, and that which she uttered was low, measured, and precise. I’d arranged to meet her in a café at a location neutral for the both of us, to lessen her worry that she’d be found out. “They call me dirty,” she said, stressing on the word she’d been tarred with. She didn’t look at me, and her gaze remained on her cleansing ritual.

Dirty. I can only imagine the number of times she had tossed that word in her mind, hoping for it to one day be eliminated from her psyche. Dirty. A word they had smeared every inch of her being with; a stained cloth they had wrapped her in; a label they had stamped all over her, for she is now amongst the untouchable amongst her people. And what was her crime? Innocence.

“They say I provoked him. I tell you, I did not!” I envisioned the surge of anger simmering within the walls of her arteries, threatening to be unleashed. She looked up and her eyes pulled mine into hers. They took me through her pain, her moments of despair and the times when she lost faith in her Creator and all of His creation. She had crashed with a greater force than she could ever have imagined, and it took several pillow-drenching years for her to begin collecting the shards of her broken soul.

Maryam* is from amongst the silenced sufferers who are afraid of speaking out, hoping to blend into the shadows of the world lest they be pointed out as ‘the dirty ones’. She was a seedling at 13 when she was raped by her uncle, multiple times – her garden of innocence completely robbed of its flowers – and she was 21 when she finally decided to stand up to her tormenting nightmares and told her mother.

The hysterics and tears of rage that streamed down her mother’s cheeks were not from the incredulous acts that her uncle had committed, but from the shame Maryam had brought to the family. Family honour, prestige and the aversion of being seen in a negative light were more valued than the sadness she was gagged with. Maryam spoke only to then be chastised, rebuked, and labelled as a temptress, despite her protests against her accusers. Now 31 years old, unmarried and still living with her parents, Maryam has lost all hope in ever having a mate that will soothe her soul, quell her fears and accept that she was the wronged and not the wrongdoer.

“I’m not dirty,” she told me, “they just can’t see past the stain he painted me with.”

© LaYinka Sanni, March 2012

Published in the September 2012 issue of SISTERS.


9 thoughts on “Dirty [published]

  1. Sad! A society that preserve family honour rather than justice and fairness is mean,totally so. Female victims of rape are always blamed rather than helped. May Allah heal every woman that has experience such violation. Beautiful write up!


    • Family honour over justice is far from being honourable, and it’s something that even writing this article didn’t help me understand. So many victims fear being blamed and that’s why they remain silent. It’s heartbreaking.

      Thank you for leaving a comment, Saphyah. ♥


    • Saphyah wrote “Female victims of rape are always blamed rather than helped” as sad and heart-wrenching as this story and others like it is, rape victims are not always blamed. I know a few cases where instant jungle justice has been passed on criminals who violate the innocence and vulnerability of young girls. These animals not only commit crime against the girls, they breach the trust the society has given them. It is sad that in some communities rapist walk free and victims continue to suffer. It is things like this that probably led that Turkish woman to behead a man and place the head in town center.

      Convey our love and support to Maryam* and anyone like her, our prayers are with them!


  2. This is a wonderful and heartbreaking story! May Allah continue to bless you and guide you insha allah. I am very keen to read any of your future works. You may advise me as to how to access them or correspond via my email address insha allah.
    Your sister in Islam,
    Cape Town,
    South Africa


    • Shakirah, thank you for blessing my humble online abode with your presence. I appreciate your lovely comment and will most certainly be dropping you an email isA. To receive any writing posted on my blog directly to your inbox, please feel free to subscribe (the box is on the right). Much love to you, sis.♥


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