Last week I watched as rage over domestic and sexual violence in South Africa came to an all-time high. I observed my Twitter timeline, as people were voicing their anger and disappointment in the levels of domestic and sexual violence in our country. I watched as people participated in what was dubbed as ‘Black Friday’. I carefully watched, but never participated. Domestic violence is one of those things that are so close to home, I sometimes stay away from it.
I must have been nine or ten years old when it happened. It was the 8th of December – my mother’s birthday. I remember her coming out of her bedroom, my father following her. She started crying. Her cries became screams. She started begging my father to let her go, to let her go to work. She begged him not to kill her. She begged him not to kill her in front of her children. I don’t think I had ever seen my mother cry. I had never seen anyone fear for their life the way my mother feared for hers that morning.
Many women in my mother’s position leave their marriages in caskets, leaving children to piece together the tragedy that’s fallen upon them. I’m grateful every day that my mother isn’t one of them.
I know people who participated in Black Friday had good intentions, but we need more than good intentions to bring an end to gender based violence. I won’t pretend to know what the solution to ending it is.
Last week Friday, I did not wear black.
I read Lize Hartley’s Mail & Guardian Thought Leaders post and I agree with Lize, “The problem is not that women aren’t taking a stand. The problem is that men are raping them.” Last week Friday I was reminded that there are women out there who are with men who beat them, women who are with men who rape them and women who have been killed by the men they were with.
Last week Friday, I thought of my mother, who still has the stab wounds on her back – a reminder of a life she once lived.
We’ve got to do better than wearing black.