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Ruined Goods, a Poem about Sexual Violence and Human Trafficking by Debra Ayis

Updated: Dec 23, 2023

Photo by Frames for Your Heart

Disclaimer: What you will read below is an unapologetic, graphic, and raw work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. This piece is not age-appropriate for children.

"Violence against women and girls (VAWG) remains largely unreported due to the impunity, silence, stigma and shame surrounding it.

In general terms, it manifests itself in physical, sexual and psychological forms, encompassing:

intimate partner violence (battering, psychological abuse, marital rape, femicide);

sexual violence and harassment (rape, forced sexual acts, unwanted sexual advances, child sexual abuse, forced marriage, street harassment, stalking, cyber-harassment); human trafficking (slavery, sexual exploitation); female genital mutilation; and child marriage." ~ United Nations

Ruined Goods

We were poor, we all were

Our one room was the kitchen, bedroom, living room and the bushes were our toilet.

‘Come, I will get you money to feed your family’ she said

‘Good business, you will travel and meet rich people, but don’t tell anyone’

She was my auntie’s friend

So we went, to a beautiful building on the other side of town

She led me to a room and asked me to stay comfortable

A few minutes rolled by, I heard a knock

I opened the door and two men sauntered in.

I smiled and curtseyed, they walked around me like hawks

I sat down silent, a well-trained, innocent girl

Awaiting my aunties’ entrance.

The fat one came to me and held my hand, playing with my hair with his other

I pulled back, avoiding his advances

‘We are going to play hard to get are we?’ he taunted

His friend shut the door whilst fatso dragged me to my feet

He shackled my hands using his hand, shutting my mouth with his left hand

I could feel my clothes being ripped off by his accomplice.

Feel his putrid breath on my face while I struggled.

He forced his way in from behind

While his friend balled my clothes and stuffed a wad in my mouth

The pain was excruciating, even as I felt blood coursing down my legs

He sat on the floor, pulling me down on his equipment.

After a while it was fatso’s turn, and then the other and then fatso.

More men came for their share of the opened goods

Daggered multiple times till I fainted from pain and exhaustion

I awoke, believing it was a terrible nightmare

Not so, as I was now in a truck, with many girls about my age.

We were at the border,

Things were not right, questions were being asked

And like a miracle, we were ‘rescued’

It should have been a celebration but when I returned home,

My father wouldn’t look or speak to me,

My mother wouldn’t touch or talk to me

I was thrown out at the break of day

For no man would pay for my dowry

I was of no use to my family and had but one place in society

I was now ruined goods.


First published by Stand to End Rape:

Previously published in "Stanzas and Clauses for the Causes: Brine Rights Vol 1" by Brine Books Publishing



UNiTE! Invest to Prevent Violence Against Women & Girls! #No Excuse:

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