Protesting is emotionally taxing. I swear nothing could ever have prepared me for what I was about to experience.
For a moment, I stood there in the crowd with tears rolling down my cheeks. The material of my mask absorbed my tears, as I listened to a woman sharing her experience of having to wait two hours for the police after reporting a rape. Another spoke of how her rapist walks by and taunts her on the regular after being released from prison. In that moment, Covid-19 wasn’t the enemy we feared. Fear wasn’t even present! Strength was there, accompanied by anger, sadness, disappointment and a deep desire for vengeance. And it was all fueled by recent events.
Nothing supposedly ever happens in Graaff Reinet, but this weekend the lives of women walking home from work changed. The unimaginable happened – they were assaulted and sexually violated. They became a gender-based violence statistic. Some might see the situation as that and nothing else, but for me this felt personal. I don’t scare easily but I was reminded of how uneasy I felt two weeks ago and had to turn around and quickly change my jogging route as a bunch of guys somewhat 300m away started cat-calling me.
See, we are all familiar with fear. Even though some of us have been lucky enough to narrowly escape assault or never experience or witness GBV, yet still we fear. Because we know for a fact that South African women are under siege. The horrendous acts of violence against us are intensifying and it is causing us to evolve – as do anything in nature that faces extinction or are under severe attack.
We are more intolerant now than ever before. We are crossing lines and becoming recklessly brave in our efforts to secure our safety and that of our daughters.
Women are tenacious. We don’t need to be raped to prove it!
To be continued …