The internet has been filled with stories of violence against women, women speaking out on rape abuse and the fear that they too could be next. #AmINext #MeToo
This came particularly after the shocking case of Uyinene Mrwetyana a 19 year old University Of Capetown student who went missing after she had gone to inquire about a parcel at Clareinch Post Office in Claremont. She was raped, murdered her body burnt and buried in a shallow grave, in the Post Office by a male Post Office employee who confessed but whose court case has been postponed to the 5th of November.
A message to Uyinene from her mother:
“I’m sorry I warned you about all the other places but not the post office. I’m sorry I was not there to fight for you, my girl… I love you my girl.”
Uyinene’s story became a rallying point to highlight the abuse, rape and murder of women at the hands of men. There have been marches and protests, there have been hashtags and even now when the outcry is longer as loud, women are still going missing, being raped and murdered. Men have been called out for their silence and perceived complacency #MenAreTrash
Why have We been silent?
Although we are all heaped into one collective I cant speak for what goes on in the heads of all men, I can only speak for myself.
Why have I been silent?
I have been silent because my first response would have been to defend our sex and say not all men… but then I came across the following analogies somewhere on the internet
“If you are afraid of snakes and somehow end up in a bucket full of them, you wont have time to separate the poisonous from the non-poisonous because you will be afraid of ALL OF THEM”
Its not a perfect analogy but it did help shed light in understanding the constant fear women have to leave with wondering if the next man she crosses path with will hurt, rob, rape, abduct kill her… a relative, a spouse, a boyfriend, a stranger, a post office employee.
Walking down the road I don’t usually pay much attention to other men I pass, maybe a dodgy group sitting by the bridge on the side of the road who seem to be drinking and smoking most times even passing those I will not be in mortal fear of my life, mostly they will just say “Big up Rasta!” or ask for some smokes or a bit of change to get a cigarette.
When I am picking my wardrobe for the day I never put much thought into it like if it is appropriate or if it will be considered provocative and have men cat-calling, whistling and calling me names, or if I will be using my own transportation or have to navigate the public transport system.
When I am using public transport I never worry someone will rub onto me or grope me, I might worry about a pickpocket or my laptop getting damaged or my bread getting squashed in the pressure to get into the cheap Zupco bus.
I am not saying I do not have fear, I am simply saying I am not constantly having to assess risk every single time I am outdoors or wondering if the plumber is aware I am home alone.
The scariest thing that has happened to me to date is when I left town late and got into one of the last public taxis of the day, I kept looking at the other passengers to see if they were real passengers since I have heard tales of vehicles that abduct people. The gentleman beside me reeked of alcohol and kept trying to look at my phone as I texted a message home that I was on my way and they should look out for me. When the vehicle took an unfamiliar turn I thought this is it, I really should have taken the licence plate of the vehicle and forwarded it to someone in case I did not make it home. I asked the conductor about my stop and he said don’t worry rasta we will get you there.
I breathed a prayer when I saw familiar streets and I dropped off at my bus stop and started the dark walk home. My heart raced when I had footsteps behind me I walked faster and they walked faster too, I started to run then a woman’s voice hailed me.
“Excuse me” she shouted “I got off the same lift as you, I was hoping I could walk behind you”
I was scared of the night and she was scared of me.
She walked a safe distance behind not entirely sure if she could trust me or not, yet fearing being alone more. She shouted that she had reached her gate and I waited a safe distance so she could open her gate, proceeding after I heard her gate lock behind her.
Women, young and old living in a constant state of wondering if she is next. Someone pointed out how learning all sorts of self-defense simply transfers risk to others less vulnerable and despite the self-defense you could still be next.
Is she next? Well she might be… if we don’t look out for her.
Is She Next?