A woman who is deaf and dumb has accused her parents of maltreatment and says she has considered suicide.
Florence Umukoro, 23, said her parents stopped sponsoring her education after they discovered her condition 11 years ago. While her siblings were sent to school, she said she was taken to different churches for deliverance.
She alleged that her parents and pastors said she was demon-possessed.
Speaking to Punch via WhatsApp, she said, “I have been hoping my life will change for the better, but things keep getting worse as time goes by. My family and relatives have disowned me; nobody cares about me. My parents have been helping my siblings with their schooling, but they left me out of the picture.
“I have been labelled possessed by a demon and it is breaking my heart. On April 27, 2021, my younger sister said I should prepare for a church programme that I would be attending with our mother, Mary, but I declined.
“Suddenly, my parents and older brother, Emmanuel, forcefully dragged me to a blue garment church owned by a prophetess. The prophetess told them to chain my hands and legs to prevent me from leaving.
“Then, they had their driver shave me and ordered my mother to bathe me. I pleaded for compassion and respect for my privacy, all to no avail. The prophetess stood behind me with a stick and threatened to beat me up if I revolted.
“Mother complied with her call to strip me naked. I felt so wounded in my spirit as they striped me off my dignity. I got reduced to an animal as I was kept in chains from Wednesday, April 28, to Saturday, May 1, 2021.”
Florence said she’s feeling suicidal because of the alleged “neglect and the inhumane conditions” her parents and pastors subjected her to.
She added, “They violated my rights and also spied on my life, thus making me feel like a symbol of evil; I’m heartbroken. I can’t go on this way anymore. I will do whatever it takes to free myself, even if it means committing suicide to end my pains.
“These seemingly unending years of religious and domestic persecution must end. Everything started when pastors told them that my hearing loss was spiritual. A relative, including other clerics, also said I was demonised.
“I opened up about my hearing issue in 2011 and they often beat and forcefully dragged me to deliverance programmes. They (parents) send my siblings to high school and university, but I am always sitting at home, doing nothing.
“I am telling others about my problem because I can’t cope with the stigma anymore. I’m slowly getting out of the public eye as the humiliation and trauma is becoming unbearable.”