Ryma owns one of the most popular hair and beauty salons in town. Although it’s a new venture, Ryma is full of hope for how it will provide for her in the future. She didn’t have that sense of hope when she first came to Hagar.
Ryma grew up in a province on the border of Cambodia and Thailiand. Her parents were subsistence farmers and were often out farming. They rarely had time to watch over her and her six siblings, and she often felt unsafe as she travelled to and from school.
One day in July 2014, a high ranking soldier kidnapped her. She was 17 years old. He raped her multiple times over the two days that he kept her. She was locked up in his living quarters and begged to be let free but he refused. He injured her face, eyes and stomach. Ryma was afraid he would kill her.
After two days, the soldier finally released her and took her back to her home, on condition that she lied and said she had had an accident on the way home. Ryma agreed, but as soon as she arrived home, she told her mother what had happened. When the soldier found out she had told her parents, he said he would marry her. But her parents said no, they wanted justice for their daughter.
They refused to marry her off and filed a complaint at the provincial court against him with support from ADHOC. The man bribed the court to pay a fine of $5,000 and he was released, due to his high rank in the army.
Ryma was referred to Hagar in 2015 where she was placed in a secure home for women who have survived abuse. She stayed there for over a year, where she slowly started regaining self-worth, belief in herself and a better future.
“Hagar counsellors made me realise my potential, they helped me process what I went through and I feel better. I used to feel worried and scared, but I began talking to more people and opening up about the happiness of everyday life, and opportunities for me here”
Ryma excelled during her catch up education. In October 2016, Ryma was reintegrated back into her community, where she continued to receive close counselling and mentoring from Hagar. With advice from her case manager, Ryma was encouraged to think about her future. She decided to train as a hairdresser. Recently, she married a man who loves her very much.
“I’ve also had a lot of time to think about my ordeal and how I could help prevent other girls in being in the same vulnerable place I was in. I understand more about personal safety and tell all my friends about how they should be vigilant, yet bold and strong.”
“I don’t feel too anxious anymore. I want to focus on the future, and show that women like me can still be business women and earn an income for their future family. It’s not because I suffered abuse that I would let my life stop.”