Am I next?

Woman’s hands tied together with a rope

It is estimated that over 40% of South African women will be raped in their lifetime. Gender based violence is at the highest we have ever seen in our country and in the world.  This closely showing the imbalance that lies between men and women. Men have so much power in our country that they feel entitled to a women’s body. I have gone through all the emotional stages, first I experienced sadness for the girls who had been raped and murdered at the hands of men. Then I became fearful for my life and the final stage was one of anger. I was angry at our government and every single member of parliament. Every single party in parliament sits there because someone, somewhere, believed they could lead our country. 

President Cyril Ramphosa said  “You must run for the hills the day you have a president who is arresting people, investigating and prosecuting them and putting them in jail because then you have no democracy. My task is to set up institutions that will do their work.” I fully agree with the president, however ,those institutions he has put in place are not doing their jobs.

Majority of the culprits in gender-based violence cases do not end up in jail. Many victims have said how hard it is for them to continue with life as they see their rapist everyday roaming the streets. When you report being raped or abused as a woman the first question asked is “’what were you wearing?” or “did you encourage the man’s behaviour?”. We are continuously trying to justify men’s behaviour. This indicates that this problem is way more immense than we thought. We have people with poor mindsets that see men above women and not as equal. It is ingrained in their minds that they own women. 

“I am sorry I warned you about every other place but the post office,” are the words of the mother of Uyinene Mretyana. Uyinene was a 19-year-old  university girl who was raped, murdered, and burnt by a post office worker at the post office. The fear of being raped and murdered lurks at the back of all females in South Africa, but the most heart-breaking thing is, that it is not safe for us to go to government places such as the post office. Mama Africa is broken. Tons of battles fought for liberation, but the nation still weeps. Murder has become a profession; rape a daily activity and we are forced to walk amongst these rapists and murderers, but we call it justice.

I have watched people who I regard as sisters stand before men and ask for forgiveness. In which they stated that they did not know what they did wrong to men, but if men could please forgive them and stop killing and raping women. Sadly, I am not one of those women , I refuse to protect the male ego,  I am not sorry for I have done nothing wrong.  I should not have to apologise for being born female. I am female and unapologetic about it. The governments initiatives at solving gender-based violence are just not good enough.

What we should be doing is implementing mind set classes for boys and girls, with the end goal of ridding them of  these ideas that are mainly; men are entitled to women’s bodies and that women are to be treated as objects. We then also need to add sex education classes, South Africa is a country that as the highest HIV / AIDS rate , so I do not understand why these classes are not already incorporated in our syllabus. In these classes, boys from a young age need to be taught how to treat girls. Our justice system needs to hold the rapists and murderers accountable for their crimes. This will lead to a generation of females who will not have to ask themselves am I next?

South Africa