Friday, 24 March 2017

Tough week to be a black woman in South Africa

It's been a rough week to be a black woman in South Africa. 

The country woke up on Human Rights Day to a viral clip of a white male threatening and shouting at a young black mother in front of a group of children and Spur restaurant staff and customers. This incident occurring in a public space proved that even public places do not necessarily mean safety for a woman, especially if she is black. 

What stroke me about the footage was the number of people who stood by and watched while this bully of a man used his physical strength to threaten a safety of a woman and young children. 

While we were still reeling from the shock of those who broke their necks to justify the man's actions, a story broke about a quantum taxi that has been doing rounds in the Soweto township and areas surrounding the Johannesburg CBD prowling on women who rely on public transport. I could easily be one of these women. Gathering from the stories how some of the women had been picked up and the manner which they came across this taxi with three men and one woman it's shocking to imagine just how close many black women are close to this violence.  

It might as well just been me on a normal day flagging down a taxi in Soweto or around the Johannesburg CBC. As the horrific stories from the women go, the taxi would stop when a female would be passenger mentions unaware that the other supposedly passengers are rapists and one woman in on the act. The female in the taxi would then suddenly get off at a nearby stop.  This is where the nightmare would being for unsuspecting victims. They would be raped and robbed by the men. 

One mother endured a 4 hour ordeal in front of her son. I realise I am blocking a lot of information from the descriptions I've heard over the radio during the course of Thursday. Incidents of rape and violence over black female bodies in South Africa leave me feeling helpless and numb. I realise with the latest incidents of rape on wheels that most of us exist around sexual violence and indeed very close to these types of dangers. The likelihood of being either one of these victims in both instances is striking. As someone who spends a lot of time between taxi ranks and walking in the CBD, like most working class women, it had always scared me how black men feel so entitled to a black woman's body. I will say it again, black men feel like they are entitled to black female's bodies. It has long passed epidemic proportions in South Africa. Being grabbed without your permission and the occasional groping is all too common in public place. 

One day was I was in a taxi from Midrand to Pretoria, I sat next to a man who was touching me. I spent half of the journey swatting him away until a guy sitting the other side asked me if I would like to change seats with him. It is rare to find a man willing to stand up for a woman he doesn't know. Usually its just a black woman on her own. Black men do not speak out against themselves. Even our own government has still not made a fight against rape a priority. This doesn't surprise me much because we have men in government who themselves are culprits and feel like they have rights to abuse women. 

1 comment:

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