Miss Rwanda 2020 contestant Aisha Uwase has spoken out on a childhood incident that has haunted her for years and led her to contemplate committing suicide.
The 19-year-old, who is among the 54 girls who will go into Miss Rwanda 2020 pre-selection this weekend, spoke out on her ordeal on ‘Zoom In’ show, which aired on Rwanda Television on Saturday, interviewed by Jerad Mbabazi.
It is no wonder that the aspiring model who has no.51 in Miss Rwanda 2020 has a project on fighting gender-based violence, which she says has an impact on survivors who often need help to overcome the trauma and depression that comes with it.
Uwase revealed that on one fateful morning when she was 6, a male domestic worker at home called her into a room and defiled her, leaving her with physical and psychological wounds which she is still dealing with to date.
“I came up with a project to fight gender and sexual violence because this is a story of my life. The victims live with trauma for the rest of their lives and often get bouts of suicidal thoughts and a feeling of hopelessness which never goes away,” Uwase says.
“When I was six, I was defiled and it has since affected me physically and psychologically as I grow up even though the incident happened when I was young. My parents took care of me and got me the necessary treatment and emotional support and it all passed.”
“They were relieved that I did not get any infection from the house help who defiled me but there is that psychological part for victims of sexual violence which we never pay attention to, which has long-lasting effects,” Uwase said.
Aisha Uwase tried to commit suicide in high school so she could get away from the rape incident. / Courtesy
On her part, she is always battling thoughts of worthlessness and attaching no value to her body which was violated at a young age, which is why at some point in high school she attempted suicide.
“You feel hopeless and worthless at times. It happens to me. Sometimes I find myself crying for no reason. Not because I am hungry or that someone has beaten me. It is a feeling that you have little or no control of,” Uwase said.
Though she does not have a full recollection of the 2006 incident, she remembers the house help who was an adult and physically stronger, called her after she had woken up that morning, and because she was a respectful child, she obeyed him and he subsequently defiled her.
He would later be arrested and charged with defilement and sentenced by the courts of law but to date, she still lives with the damage. At one point, she spent a month down, battling trauma and feeling worthless.
In school, she would opt to be withdrawn and on her own because she felt out of place, which is why in secondary school she thought of taking her life. These moments come and go but the most important thing is that she has been able to pick herself up and focus.
“I don’t want the person who did it to me to feel victorious. I did some research and found out that most victims of sexual violence go through what I was going through,” she said adding that after counseling, she decided to share her stories with others and it is helping her to overcome.
“It was in S.6 when I got an attack. While I was down, I decided to tell one of my friends what happened to me when I was young and I felt relieved,” she recalls.
The aspiring model, who is already making a name in the fashion industry, believes the Miss Rwanda platform will enable her to advance her cause. Whether she wins the title or not, her hope is to use the platform to send the message to victims of sexual violence that there is hope.
She said Oprah Winfrey is her role model because she also experienced sexual violence at a young age but it never stopped her from being what she wanted to be.
Uwase, who will join the university in March to study communication and journalism, believes that by 40 she will have made a huge difference. Last year Uwase made her first attempt at the Miss Rwanda title but did not make it but believes this year she is better prepared.
She also participated in Miss Supranational 2019 and has experience in modeling. She believes fashion and modeling are good platforms to fight gender-based violence.