You know when you are in a dream and it feels like something heavy has pinned you down. You can’t move, and you keep screaming but you’re inaudible and you are about to give in because no one can hear you! That’s how I feel as I write this. Something is happening in the atmosphere and it’s not favoring a human. The world is going through a purge of some sort. It’s not an easy time to be alive.
As if the global rise of Covid-19 cases isn’t enough to deal with, we hear during the month of May that an American black man, George Floyd died under the knee of a white policeman while crying out “I can’t breathe”. While we’re we shouting on the sidelines “Justice For George Floyd” our very own sisters in South Africa were dying like flies at the brutal hand of a man.
The femicide in South Africa has taken a rise once again. We read of Tsegofatso Pule, Nolundi Dondolo, Alexia Nyamadzawo, Natasha Conabeer, Nwabiswa Mthumeni, Kgothatso Molefe, Khanyisile Ntanga, Pumla Mrinjelwa Ntombela, Sinethemba Ndlovu, Siphiwe Sibeko, Phumza Skade, Kgaugelo Tshwane. These are all the women and children who have been brutally murdered. It is said that in every 3 hours, a woman is killed in South Africa. How terrifying!?
I spoke to a few women and requested that they contribute to this article by sharing their thoughts and feeling about this crisis. Evident throughout this article are the words from women for the women who have fallen victim and died at a man’s mercy. I get a tone of anger, disappointment, tiredness, and the will to fight from these women. Their voices echo;
-Lillian Tshabalala –
Gender-based violence claimed the lives of Noluthando Nkosi & Yonela Ndumo whom I knew well! I know a lot more women suffering from the after-effects of surviving GBV. I’m puzzled by an image of a man locking a teenage girl in his room and raping her after convincing her “we will just hang out”. I’m crippled by an image of a married man strangling the life out of his wife. I am shuddered by an image of a man kicking his pregnant partner in the tummy until the baby dies. It’s been happening for too long! It’s tiring! We shouldn’t have to try to figure out why all these things are happening to us, just stop already! We are afraid, our souls are trembling. You need to stop!!!
– Tshepiso Lerato Phosa-Matlopela –
You hurt me, I cried.
You bruised me, I cried.
You tortured me, I cried.
You never stopped… And I died.
Why are those strong hands that are meant to protect me, the very same hands that are killing me?
Do you not see it? I was built fragile, in need of extra care. Do you not see it? The bitterness I harbor inside of me, the rage I have towards other people is me screaming at myself; “How could you let yourself go through the same thing again? “. Do you not see it? You’re bleeding on the wrong person, you are using your traumas to communicate a message I cannot understand. I am not to blame for your shortcomings.
You are weak and broken inside. A great man doesn’t exercise their power and expresses their feelings through violence. MY BODY IS NOT A BATTLEFIELD!!!
-Refiloe Ramotala –
We are your grandmothers, mothers, sisters, wives, girlfriends, friends, neighbors, colleagues. We are members of the society. Stop killing us!!!!!!!!
-Mashadi Msiza –
It isn’t love when you scream, shout at me, call me names only to break me down emotionally, making me believe that I am nothing without you. It is not affection. It is not respect when you threaten my very existence by raising your hand on me just because I have a mind of my own. You know very well that I cannot physically fight you off because I am a woman. That is not respect! To my fellow sisters; he doesn’t love you if he keeps blaming you for his actions, he is responsible for his own actions!
Stop Gender-Based Violence!
-Nontobeko Sibiya –
A person who does not know the agony of carrying and bringing life to earth feels the need to take a life. What a shame. Men should be ashamed! It doesn’t start with a slight shove or a slap. It starts with that first “Voetsek”. Ladies, leave then! By the time a man is so confident in his aggression that he lays his hand on you, you’re already well on the way down a very slippery and potentially deathly slope. As women, we are nurturers and home-makers. It’s instinctual to want to stay and fix it. I assure you, you will not “fix him” and it’s not your responsibility to do so. To the men who have evidently waged a war against us, let it be known that we will not cower. You will have to kill us all.
That’s it, we demand a revolution! We are worthy of the life you constantly take from us…stop killing us!
-Hulisani Khorombi –
“Its not the victim’s duty to end rape. We can have as many conferences as we like. It’s not our duty” says Malebo Sephodi. With that being said I find it difficult to speak on issues of GBV in South Africa because as much as we women talk about it amongst ourselves and equip each other with preventative methods to stay alive, the task of being hypervigilant is exhausting! At some point, I just wish that men would realize that our lives matter. Not because we are your sister, mother, or child but merely because we are human. We should not have to center our being around the relation to a male figure in order to be deemed worthy to take another breath. And the work has to come from you.
Who do you think you are? How dare you? What gives you the right? Do you do not have a mother, a sister, an aunt, a niece, a grandmother? The women who brought you up, were their efforts all in vain? Is your ego so important to you that you take someone’s life to keep your ego in check? You have a choice to walk away. You have the rest of your life to reflect on your choices unlike she does! You have the rest of your life to wallow in pity with your cowardly ego yet she no longer lives!
Bring back the death penalty!
-Itumeleng Rhonah Moeketsi –
This is the darkest time of our existence! These predators have no mercy. We do not know the light. Our harmonies are muzzled and our tears have become mud. Men have turned deaf to our wailing. You kill us and we fight back using hashtags. We have forgotten the sounds of our own melodies. Men, grow up!
There’s no punishment well enough for you on this planet that will give justice that is satisfactory for us for what you did. You have no idea of the scars you leave us with; the fear, the devastation, and the bitterness! I wish you have a long-suffering life ahead. I wish you do not die even if you wish to!
” My beloved country, I have faith that one-day women can walk freely, knowing that it’s okay to be a woman because this is not the life I envisioned my daughter to be a part of”
Hell yes, I’m a fierce and resilient woman” nothing can break me!! Stop Gender-based Violence!
I fear for the young girls and boys exposed to this kind of life. It’s difficult to teach children about what’s happening around them without evoking fear, anger and,d a sense of low esteem. It’s as though they have to have an explanation for their existence. How insane!?
To men; I do not believe you hate us! My power, your weakness. My peace, your demons! The nurturer in me awakens the wounded, abandoned little boy in you. The innocence in me exposes the ugly in you. My fragility reveals your vulnerability. My ability to be broken and whole at the same time pours salt to your concealed wounds. I am a constant reminder that love, compassion, forgiveness, generosity, integrity, courage, politeness, peace, tenderness, still exists in a world you believe proves otherwise. You hate the possibility of a truth that I am your mirror. What you don’t want to accept about yourself, you see in me. You hate the reflection of yourself in me.
You may butcher me, hang me, burn me, shoot me, strangle me, rape me, but you cannot kill the spirit that lives in me and many others! You will have to turn the gun on yourself! I am a woman, I will not succumb to your inhumane nature. My blood will not be a sacrifice for your neurosis!
To women; I urge us to not keep silent as much tiring as it is! I urge us to do whatever we can to contribute to this world, positive energy, someday it will multiply. The next generation needs it!
We are women, we are nurturers, we are power personified, we are still waters and raging fire all at the same time. We are who we are. They cannot change us, let’s not let them. They will not finish us!