A Christian teen in Uganda has begun taking tentative steps again – after she lost the use of her legs when her Muslim father locked her in a room for six months as punishment for leaving Islam, according to a startling new report from Compass Direct News.
The report from Bwera, Uganda, identified the girl as Susan Ithungu, 15, of Isango village in the Kasese district.
She has been hospitalized for more than a year, since September 2010, after neighbors and police at that time rescued her from her father, Beya Baluku.
He had given her hardly any food or water, and was arrested but quickly released, according to the report.
Susan and her younger brother, Mbusa Baluku, lived alone with their father, who had divorced their mother.
It was in March 2010 when the teen girl chose Christianity, prompting her father to make a public threat to slaughter her with a knife, Compass reported.
Pastor Joseph Baluku of Bwera Full Gospel Church in Kasese said neighbors who found out the girl was being kept locked in a room with almost no food or water called police.
She was hospitalized on Sept. 6, 2010, and wasn’t released until Oct. 19, 2011, Compass said.
After Compass originally published her ordeal on Aug. 11, 2011, several individuals and ministries came forward to help her, and she now is living in an undisclosed location.
“Well-wishers have been paying the house rent and buying me food and clothing,” Compass reported Susan told the organization. She also reported she has forgiven her father.
One member of the Bwera Full Gospel Church in Kasese, Biira Dreda, left her own four children under the care of her mother in order to look after Susan while she was hospitalized.
“It is now becoming difficult to meet the school fees for my own children,” Dreda told Compass. “I am praying to get some little funds so as to start an income generating project.”
Susan has begun to walk with support, but still cannot squat or stand upright, a result of being forced to lay on one side so much during her captivity. She also suffered from malaria while locked up.
“I thank all those who have continually supported me spiritually, materially and even morally,” Susan told Compass. “I am also thankful to Biira Dreda, who stood by me in the hospital, and to date she is still with me when none of my family members has come to see me. I now take Dreda as my mother because of her care and love. My own people have abandoned me.”
A volunteer who works with the Ugandan police as a child protection officer, Jacob Mukobi, reported he was tipped off that Susan had been locked up in the house for six months.
“When I got the horrifying message about Susan that she had been put under house arrest for converting to Christianity, I went with the police to the house on Sept. 6, 2010, and took her to Bwera hospital,” he told Compass.
He reported her father won’t take her back unless she recants Christianity and rejoins Islam.
The father told Mukobi he punished her because he was upset by her adoption of Christianity.
“I do not like my daughter calling herself Susan and leaving her Muslim name, Aisha,” Mukobi said Baluku told him.
Compass reported that Susan’s treatment included surgery on both legs, but as a doctor tried to work on one leg, the thigh bone was so weak it snapped. She had to drop out of school because of the extended treatment in several hospitals.
“Susan at the moment needs a balanced diet to strengthen her weak bones, so that she can go to school soon,” Baluku reported.
Open Doors USA recently reported that nine of the 10 worst nations for persecution of Christians worldwide are run essentially under Islamic law, and the recent “Arab Spring” across parts of northern Africa and the Middle East has led to a surge of repression.