Powerlessness and silence move hand-in-hand. While many women in her position would have chosen silence as the solution - considering that it is often classified as golden - Kudakwashe Mutongwizo chose to speak out. Raped by her pastor on March 10 2012, the expecting mother said she was hopeful she would deliver a normal child despite the circumstances surrounding her pregnancy. Born 25 years ago in a family of six in Chitandara Village, Zimbabwe, under Chief Chihota, the young woman has been disabled since birth, but prefers to be described as "not so able-bodied".
Mutongwizo had a difficult childhood. She recalls: "I was never at ease with other children my age. They would either shun or mock me because I could not run around like they did."
During high school years at Jairos Jiri Centre for the Disabled, she was shocked by the extent to which disabled young women faced sexual and reproductive health challenges. She invested her trust in a man of the cloth in ZAOGA Church's Chitandara Circuit.
"At first I thought as a deacon, he was a man of God with sincere intentions," she said. "He would push my wheelchair whenever I met him and I began feeling at ease in his presence." Mutongwizo said.
The day she was raped, the deacon visited her homestead and asked that she accompany him to the shops, about 2km away.
"The deacon was the closest to a friend to me because we went to church together and he had become like part of our family, as he was also a neighbour. We joked and laughed as usual all the way to the shops," she said.
She said the deacon suddenly changed his behaviour and diverted the route to a secluded area where he lifted her off her wheelchair, tore her undergarments and forced himself on her.
When they returned home, the pastor confessed his sin to Mutongwizo's sister and they agreed to keep the matter under wraps. Four months later, her 72-year-old father noticed she was pregnant and when she spilled the beans, he confronted the pastor, who acknowledged responsibility. He assured the family he would take care of his daughter and pay "damages" for the violation.
The father (name withheld) said: "Since the matter had been discussed at the traditional court, the family assumed that the deacon would honour his side of the deal and take care of my daughter."
The pastor fled the area and is currently on the run. He is on the police "Wanted" list and is believed to be hiding in South Africa. His mother and relatives, however, claimed she was responsible for her misery because their son would never abuse a disabled woman.