After Fukushima, mother fights to get her life back

Sun Sep 11, 2011 9:40pm EDT
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By Antoni Slodkowski

FUKUSHIMA PREFECTURE, Japan (Reuters) - Even before the March 11 earthquake and tsunami struck knocking out the Fukushima nuclear plant, Aya's life was a struggle.

She had divorced her abusive husband and was left on her own to care and provide for her two daughters.

Now, six months after she fled her home just 9 km (6 miles) away from the radiation-spewing plant, the 26-year old single mother is barely surviving. She has no job, languishes in hiding from her violent ex-husband in temporary housing and will probably never see her home again.

"It feels like a hole has opened inside me. My home was so important to me and I felt safe there," said Aya who would not give her family name or disclose her exact location out of fear her ex-husband could find her.

"It's like time has just stopped. Ever since March 11, the time has stopped for me."

The tsunami left 20,000 dead or missing, set off the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl a quarter of a century ago and forced 80,000 to evacuate.

It hit particularly hard those who were already down on their luck. There were reports of lone deaths in temporary housing and suicide rates jumped in the quake-battered regions.

After the disaster Aya was evacuated to a nearby gymnasium, but could not stay there as Noa - her younger four-year-old daughter - cannot walk because of a split spine and needs special care. The older, six-year-old Kurea has no disabilities and goes to school.   Continued...