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“I’m happy with my life”
“For 14 years I lived a life of violence. I was locked up indoors. My husband used to beat me, I was subject to physical abuse, and he didn’t feed our children.
I was having children every year. Imagine, six small children, one just starting to walk, the other barely sitting, and me pregnant again. It was a terrible life. I knew nothing about birth control or health in general, because my husband was jealous. According to him, it wasn’t necessary for me to have any friends, male or female. I had lost contact even with my family.
I broke the barrier when my husband, amidst all the abuse, began an incestuous relation with my oldest daughter. The police began to investigate the case, but despite the violence and my daughter’s suffering, I kept denying this could be true.
I didn’t look around, to me this was normal. But, yes, when the prosecutor’s office and the police did all their investigating, well, it was hard, because I was forced to believe it was true, what had happened to my daughter.
So with that entire situation my life became traumatic, I just cried and asked: ‘What am I going to do?’ I saw things as being extremely difficult, and that I would never be able to change them.
But with the help of these women I was able to change. That was when I began my training process. The problem was that I could not get out of my situation because I couldn’t read!
In the year 2000 a friend of mine who was a volunteer came to my community and asked if I wanted to participate in the Educate Everyone program, which nowadays is very common here in Honduras. She asked me: ‘Do you want to learn how to read?’ I said I did, and in three years managed to finish sixth grade.
After a year-and-a-half I was in third grade, that was when the problem with my daughter took place. The complaint was lodged at the prosecutor’s office, but it got stuck in Criminal Court for well over a year. When the judge began to call me in for hearings, my husband thought I was still ignorant. But by then thank God my life had changed, I wasn’t the same.
A moment came when he said to me that if I needed money he would give me 70,000 lempiras, our national currency, but I told him I didn’t need them, that I had earned them while we were together, but that now what I wanted was for the laws to be enforced.
That was the first case of incest ever prosecuted in La Paz, and it was discovered there were many more instances in these municipalities. But I was the first one, after that other cases were brought forward. My husband was convicted and sent to prison for nine years.
Now we live a dignified, a decent life, our basic needs are met, I am happy with my eleven children and don’t discriminate any of them. They are the source of my happiness and I work for my eleven children. I work so as to educate them, I know how to raise funds for other women, how to put forward proposals, evaluate and monitor projects, make work plans, and with that I make a few pennies and can help my children and raise them. That has been my success - and for me, with that, I’m happy with my life.”
Name: Etelvina Calix
Age: 50 years
Organization: UTC La Paz