South Africa

Gender Violence: We don't feel safe anywhere, say women

Gender Violence: We don't feel safe anywhere, say women

Johannesburg - In a show of outrage against the spate of violence against women in children, many South Africans took to social media to share their fears of what was happening in their environments under the hashtags #EnoughIsEnough and #AmINext.

In recent weeks women have expressed how unsafe they feel, and late on Sunday, an Eastern Cape woman wrote on Twitter about her horrifying experience of having a bushknife-yielding man try to attack her after she got off a minibus taxi on Sunday night.

Motorists came to her rescue after they saw her crying hysterically on the road after running for her life. 

The Sunday Independent spoke to five women who said they constantly looked over their shoulders in private and public spaces – living in fear of being attacked by men.

Zola Zingithwa

Sowetan resident Zola Zingithwa, 27, from said being raped was her biggest fear.

“When you are at home, you are suspicious of your relatives. When you are out or using public transport you are always suspicious of strangers around you. At school you are suspicious of teachers and anyone who is in a position of authority. When at work you are suspicious of your bosses and your male your co-workers. Basically, we are always suspicious that men around us are out to hurt us and we can never let our guard down,” she said.

Zamahayise Hlatshwayo

Sowetan mother, Zamahayise Hlatshwayo, 28, said she was a survivor of domestic violence.  The mother of a four-year-old girl said being a woman had become a curse, because of men who had sick fantasies. She said she lived in a constant panic for her daughter and herself. 

"My ex-boyfriend was physically abusive towards me, he even hit me while I was pregnant. That made me paranoid and angry towards men. I don't know who to trust anymore and it is so sad," she said. 

Londiwe Ndlovu

Ladysmith’s Londiwe Ndlovu, 25, said women in her community lived in constant fear of syndicates that kill women to harvest their body parts.

The killers, she said, walked freely in the communities and caused a lot of tension.

“There is a brothel not far from my home and I am constantly scared that I could be kidnapped, drugged and trafficked. I fear all men – even my family members and neighbours – because there is not one that I look at and not think the worst of them. I am constantly worried," she said.

Lydia Molelekoa

Zuurbekom’s Lydia Molelekoa, 18, said men were acting in contravention to the ideals she had understood men to represent in society.

"Growing up I was taught that men should protect us but it is scary that we now fear them the most. Being a woman in South Africa is a curse. I am constantly paranoid and worry that someone will rape or kill me," she said.

Melissa Shabalala

North Riding’s Melissa Shabala, 27, said fear had led her to fear being targeted, as a woman. 

"You are forced to be aware of your surroundings, to downplay who you are. I have taken measures of how I dress and how I look so that I don’t ‘entice’ men. I feel trapped," she said. 

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The Sunday Independent