What Saartjie was subjected to, centuries ago hasn’t stopped and by the looks of things, is far from even being considered wrong and inhumane in our society.
Just yesterday I was talking about seeing this woman I went to primary school with and how she hasn’t changed, even her walk is still the same. As I was busy explaining her soldiers-march-like walk, somebody volunteered information about her, to shame her I suppose. “She’s is every working man’s play thing when they are home for a visit and find themselves bored”, we were told. A long list of men, some of whom are blood relatives and friends were mentioned. They are very proud of having a woman’s body as a playground, so proud of this in fact that they brag about it to younger siblings and nephews. Why is this normal? Why is this acceptable?
Just two days ago in a taxi, coming home from town, two young girls seated behind me were casually talking about D appointments and how it’s far easier to negotiate protection and roughness if you’re a willing participant. My stomach couldn’t handle it. We have always thought that the high infection rate and prevalence among 15-24 year old girls and young women was because of sugar daddies and blessers. I suppose It is easier to put the responsibility solely on the girls and young women and let these men continue “being boys” huh!
I appeal to Social Scientists to explore a little before choosing research topics, just look around, observe patterns of behaviour and quietly listen to conversations without raising alarm , arguments or judgement when the key populations are having candid conversations. I bet my favourite pair of shoes that all these so-called “loose” girls in our communities, who proudly make D appointments and talk openly about these have been through a lot and this is a way of protecting themselves from being brutally attacked. If 90% of the women I interact regularly with have experienced sexual assault at least once in their lives, chances are a lot of men have committed sexual assault and worse, they see nothing wrong with it.
The nonchalant way that men discuss running a train on someone, packaging girls from night clubs and gigs, etc. is indicative of a bigger societal issue, which is the normalization of brutalizing women. How will we ever end GBV if men see nothing wrong with assaulting women? Where do we even start to address this?
So as I cried myself to sleep last night, my thoughts and prayers were for the present day Sarah Baartman and (in the words of uncle Keith Glass) for a permanent solution to be found. Surely God intended for us to be more than just tools for men’s sexual enjoyment and their punching bags.