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Toyin Lawani: I was raped by my uncle at 15

Toyin Lawani, the Nigerian entrepreneur, has opened up on her tumultuous upbringing and being raped at 15.

The fashion designer, in a chat with Chude Jideonwo, said one of her uncles raped her when her mum was away.

Lawani said the rape, which happened a year after her father had disowned her, got her pregnant.

“When I was 15, I got raped by someone in my neighbourhood. And it was one of my uncles. And I couldn’t tell my mum. It was just so bad for me. You know when someone bullies you to the extent that you can’t talk,” she said.

“It was so bad. I opened up to one of my aunties. Aunty Bola. She’s late now. She took me to Ibadan. They tried to get rid of the pregnancy. It was the same time I had to get admission to UNILAG.

“My mum and dad are late now. They had to take me to a hospital when the pregnancy was about five months already because I didn’t tell anyone. There was like a baby already and it was coming out on me. I got so sick.

“My mum was calling me to come back, asking why I was still at my grandma’s house. I went to get my admission and fainted on the premises. They took me to a hospital and my mum came. The doctor opened up to her.

“He said, ‘Your daughter was pregnant and we took it out.’ She couldn’t take it because I was so young and I didn’t tell her these things. The person was so close to our family. This is why I’m so strict with my kids.”

Lawani said her childhood experience caused her to develop distrust with family members as regards her kids.

“I don’t trust anyone. Even your brothers and sisters. Anybody can betray you. I felt I lost my innocence to someone that was in the same house as us. You travel so much to feed your kids. My mum was always working,” she added.

“I hated my mum so much for it because she wasn’t there. I didn’t understand until now that I had to do these responsibilities for my kids. She had to leave us and travel to Hong Kong, China. It traumatised me.

“My dad disowned me at 14. My mum died at 46 from cancer. I started my life at 16, at which time I had three shops in UNILAG. When I left my rich ex who said I couldn’t work, I was sleeping in a hotel with my daughter.

“I believe in carrying my legacy on. I don’t care if I die young anymore. My mom died at 46. Who am I?”

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