Kelebogile Motswatswa of South Africa is a creative non-fiction writer, columnist and digital content strategist. She enjoys writing about socio-political issues concerning Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora. She is interested in mental health, personhood, culture and identity, and the intersection of all four. She is also a mental health advocate and founder of Wounded Resilience), a platform dedicated to destigmatising mental illness and contributing to mental health literacy in Africa. Kelebogile loves jazz and enjoys reading autobiographies and academic papers.
Right now, at this very hour, somewhere in South Africa a woman is in the final moments of her life. Her humanity and breath are being stripped away by a lover, a relative, a neighbour, a stranger, a friend; men – they do it so comfortably, with distressing nonchalance, like a pickpocket at a bustling market in central Johannesburg.
Described as our nation’s ‘second pandemic’, gender-based violence (GBV) claims the life of a South African woman every three hours. To be a woman in South Africa is to always be in protest and to always be at war.
Factors that I believe contribute to high rates of sexual abuse are the objectification and sexualisation of women, and the fact that women have been denied their personhood. If you see someone as an object to be consumed, then you will feel at liberty to do whatever you please with them.
Men have been conditioned and socialised to believe that they cannot win the fight against their temptations and impulses. “A man’s gotta have sex. A man cannot survive without sex.”
Until we fix what is broken in men and we tell them to change their ways, GBV will continue to be the scourge that is making South Africa the most dangerous place on earth for a woman. I love my country, but I hate being a woman in it. l
(This is an edited excerpt from an article that was first published in New African magazine).