When Siti (not her real name) was 14, her life spiralled out of control and led to a path that would include drugs, disappointment and jail time. Her father accused her mother of having an affair, and claimed that she was a product of it. Then he raped Siti. She couldn’t bear living under the same roof as him, so she left home soon after.
For Siti, now 43, this was the start of years of drug abuse, which led to her spending time spent in prison. She moved in with a string of boyfriends. Sex was a part of each relationship, and it was one of these boys who introduced her to drugs.
“Each boy who offered to let me to stay with him also made me believe that he loved me and that he would take care of me,” she said. “If I refused sex, my boyfriend would leave me and I would have no place to live and no food to eat. So I had a few boyfriends, one after another. They got tired fast. One of these boyfriends introduced drugs to me when I was 14. We took drugs together to forget our problems.”
At 16, Siti gave birth to her first child, and married her boyfriend so they could apply for a flat. “My husband and I continued to take drugs at home, even after having a few
children,” she said.
Siti’s first stint in prison for drug offences was at the age of 21. She was in and out of prison three times, spending 13 years in has not seen this child since, and is now divorced from her first husband.
“In prison, I thought of all my children every day,” she shares. “I thought of how I hurt them, and how I made them sad and angry. I thought of how I couldn’t be a good mother to them because I was in prison.”