This morning I was at Brandvlei Correctional Centre to participate in their campaign against violence towards women and children. The irony is not lost on me that we bussed in learners to be part of the programme in a safe space. And the safe space is a prison or that many of the perpetrators of such heinous acts towards women and children are incarcerated here.
It is here that I hear the story of a female inmate. The story of a young, at the time pregnant mother, who killed a 7 year old through smothering. She lamented that this deed was not the start of her story. Her story started much earlier in her life.
She detailed the lack of parental guidance and support when she was growing up. She talked of a lack of love, the abuse of alcohol by both her parents; the life of hell that their consequent behavior wrought and how it tormented her home environment. She talked of blindly following her parents... That she was told to display respect but how these values were abused as her father violated her in front of her mom...how her mom turned a blind eye and still offered to make him a meal after the act against her child. She talked of the humiliating experience of rear and front end forced entry by her father...how she struggled to use the bathroom...how her father caned her with steel wire because she resisted his advances. Her father owned her in every shape and form.
It made one feel dirty listening to this...it is gory but real ...my stomach churned! I hope it leaves you feeling the same reading this. It made me sick to think someone had the audacity, no, the courage to tell the story. It drove home the point of this scourge bedevilling our society.
She eventually drifted from her home to other family, ended up being spurned by her relatives and kept looking for love and affection. She landed in a messed up relationship and sharing a bed and life with other women and the infidelity of her boyfriend.
The sad reality is she addressed an audience that could relate and who vocally affirmed her many tales of horror...
Her story moved to 2006. She committed murder by suffocating a 7-year old. She drove home how her action of smothering the child was a release of years of pent up frustration and her litany of anger and abuse. It is a sick release of pain and woundedness. I listened to this and couldn't get angry.
It is a sad but real story of a victim that became a perpetrator. And how often don't young people who have been stripped of their dignity by adults end up replicating such behavior!
She is so normal in every other respect. How did she and many others descend into such hell at home? She appealed to the audience of women to stop allowing their children to become woman to their husbands... that they should treasure young people and protect their innocence.
16 days of activism can only alert us to the millions experiencing similar situations in silence...in unobtrusive spaces and places...and we dare not remain silent, quiet or turn a blind eye. We dare not allow this to take our society into the abyss! Moving this white-ribbon campaign beyond 16 days of activism will ensure we save our nurturers and those we need to nurture.