Before you start reading, I’d like to warn you that this is not a politically correct blog. It may have some content about sexual violence or oppression that may disturb you. Advocacy is not about being pretty or glamorous, it is about being of service to the people and I serve the disadvantaged and marginalized people that are infected or affected by HIV/AIDS as well as the LGBTQIAA+ family.
This isn’t necessarily a blog with no title, it’s just that with all that is going on in the world, I find myself struggling to write about just one concept. I mean, where does one even begin? Do I write about gender based violence and how numbers have escalated drastically since the global lockdown? Is anyone interested in the stats anymore? Should I talk about how it speaks to how damaged we are as a society? What are the contributing factors and how does knowing any of this bring us closer to a solution?
The numbers or statistics are people, real human beings just like you and me. The pain is real and the devastating effects are tangible. Gender based violence is further exacerbated by our normalization and failure to reach tangible solutions on how to end it.
Every time I hear of a 2 year old raped in a hospital quarantine area in South Africa or a seven year old girl raped on her way back from school or a young woman stabbed and hung while eight months pregnant or one that is burned alive I can’t not help but feel their pain of being raped and tortured. Imagine the feeling of burning from being doused with petrol or acid. These statements are really very heavy to make but they are also very true accounts of our lived experiences in South Africa.
Men are doing this to us because they have no way of escape especially since the COVID lockdowns here. The pandemic has affected them differently because they can’t go out to drink since alcohol sales have been shut down so they have nowhere to go where they can drink their sorrows away and that is how the tension builds in the house which has led to our current numbers in rape and murder on women and children. Currently in South Africa, alcohol and tobacco sales are on hard lockdown, this is because when the ban was lifted as part of alert Level 3, hospitals started filling up with alcohol related injuries and fatalities. As it is, South Africa is in the Top 5 countries in the world with the most Corona virus cases.
Being a woman is tough in this world and being a Black woman who is living with HIV is even tougher. How does one survive with all the stereotypes and stigma that is thrown our way daily? We have multiple global illnesses ranging from gender based violence, poverty, unemployment, lack of sanitation, inequality, classism, racism and in all that women still have to work a hundred times more than a man to even be considered for equal pay.
The world has become complaisant, it’s disheartening to hear about escalating numbers of gender based violence in a pandemic and everything is just overwhelming, the Earth is bleeding and it’s difficult to say which wound we must pay attention to first to save us; perhaps medical professionals would assist us in this regard. People are already living in panic and fear of getting infected and killed by an airborne virus that they might catch on the buses or public spaces they use which a large portion of South Africa’s population relies on a daily to commute to work and home.
Most of us Black people are living in abject poverty, we mostly survive on monthly stipends issued by the government which are not enough to afford a healthy diet; healthy food is expensive. We buy our food in bulk because we have large families and that food mainly consists of rice, maize meal, oil, tea and eggs. It seems we are programmed to die because none of the stuff we buy in bulk promotes a healthy lifestyle and the way we prepare our food is another contributing factor. We’ve got no choice, we have to survive just to get by because we’ve been forced to normalize poverty. It seems that being Black is synonymous with being poor and living in dirty areas. You’ll notice the vast difference in suburbs occupied by white people which are always cleaner than areas mostly occupied by Black people who are mainly unemployed.
The education system doesn’t promote entrepreneurship and having a set of skills to equip you should you not meet the requirements to pass high school. Instead we are fed the narrative that having a degree will give us that well paying job. It’s true, it’s better to have a qualification than not but it doesn’t guarantee you’ll get a job never mind a well paying one; there are many unemployed graduates and more young people taking ownership and becoming entrepreneurs but the process of registering is full of red tape that is not every young person who has a registered business because it’s not a ‘get rich quick scheme'.
There are so many issues, rape, climate change, gender based violence, HIV, Covid-19, patriarchy, feminism, toxic masculinity and media which has a large effect on mass consumerism. We need solutions and radical transformation in leadership. We need to be fed more news on how to change the quality of our lives. We need to identify what is wrong and start making that change. It’s not going to be easy because for the change to be in effect, people must want it to be. We can no longer rely on government as a solution because it has become clear they have their own mandate which doesn’t always have the interests of the people.
We must love each other and perhaps that’s where the most difficulty stems from. Our families are toxic spaces because of centuries of oppression. The Black mind has been beaten to the extent of oblivion. The crab mentality is our norm, instead of celebrating when one gets ahead we get jealous and bitter.
I don’t have the answers, perhaps as a people we should have a dialogue and come up with the solutions together. Maybe it’s time we start having those difficult conversations about misogyny, the difference between sex and sexuality as well as dismantling poverty. We need to address how racism is still affecting us but not use it as an excuse or a crutch to hold on to when things don’t go our way; not everything is about racism although it is there and needs to be addressed it is but one of the problem to the millions we have as people.
The Dialogue Blog.
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