All through South Africa the sounds of women’s screams are heard; so loud and so permanent that they don’t even bother us any more. They fade into the background of ambient noise–birds chirps and traffic whirs.All around us the echoes of dreams deferred pulsate through us.
We pick up our torches and pitchforks and mount an angry retort to all those causing all of this hurt but… soon after the rage dies and we realise we’re fighting a battle that may never be won, we tire and retire to this fate. We think healing is enough while the world around us is still breaking. Everyday we’re faced with different forms of rape supporters; apologists and those who think they are indifferent. Everyday it’s “let’s find a new loophole in the legislation” and new excuses or reasons are found for why men rape. They refuse to engage on the issue except to make excuses and provide weak explanations. Once everything they say is refuted, they retreat back into their corners of shame knowing that that conversation they’ve just perpetuated has allowed another woman to get raped. I am so weary. My knuckles are bloodied and white. My mind is behind–stuck in a past that isn’t my life anymore. My eyes are heavy with sand scratching the surface of my eyelids. My muscles quiver. I want to give up.
But 1 in 2 women in South Africa will be raped in their lifetime. Every 26 seconds a woman is raped in South Africa. Approximately 14000 incidents of rape occur per week in South Africa. Approximately 1 in every 9 rapes that occur are reported. The conviction rate is low. Spousal rape (and getting raped by someone you know) is more common than rape by a stranger.
We live forever on our toes, hair on our chests, looking over our shoulders. Whispering our shame to those who will hold us. Unsafe even in the arms of those who know us. A woman in South Africa has a better chance of getting raped than she has of getting an education. This is why we rise. This is why we MUST rise.. For all the women who know they’re going home to black eyes and bruised thighs. To enemies inside their houses and inside their vaginas.Tell them we know. And we’re doing our best. Tell them we’re sorry and we won’t sit back until their pain ends–until their hearts can dance again in tune with the dancing lips their mouths pretend–faking smiles to protect everyone even themselves. Tell them we know. We know what’s happening to them. We believe them. We support them. We love them. And We know. They should never give up hope. We will fight to the death. Broken nails and calloused fingertips. Blood-stained sweat; cracked lips and hair down in the sand. We will stand, a wall of loudness against a wall of silence. The vibration of our voices will frighten Jericho. Don’t lower your head. Don’t be afraid. But be safe. Whatever it takes. I will rise. And so will a billion more women rise. Be part of the revolution.
This Article was Written by Dr. Thandokuhle S. Mngqibisa
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