I retweeted a tweet about a missing girl, Karabo Mokoena. It is ridiculous how many times a week I retweet something about a missing woman. I guess I can say that I have become somewhat desensitised to the issue of girls and women going missing in South Africa because it has become such an everyday thing.
The missing women are always either never found or their bodies are retrieved; raped and murdered.
This is the case with Karabo. As women we are told of areas to avoid, not to go out at night, what to wear, how to behave, to not take in substances that leave us inebriated, to not leave our drinks unattended, and to never be alone. All of this just so that we do not get raped or killed.
The problem is seen to be with us and not with the people who carry out these crimes. We are the ones who need to be “educated”. We are taught that the people who do these things are strangers. We are taught to be wary of strange men. We are told that we most probably will not know them, leaving us trusting of the men we share the spaces we call “home". We are told that there is only a certain “type” of man that would violate a woman, and that he is outside.
Can someone please say that to Karabo? Can someone please say that to the women whose lived experiences dictate a different tale? Please. I dare you.
To the #NotAllMen brigade one of the very first people who informed me of how horrible men truly are as a young girl was my father.
He told me this even before I was even capable of knowing the monstrosities that men were capable of. Before I knew that having a daughter would be a bullet that I sometimes wish to dodge. That having a son would be the lesser of two evils. That deciding not to bring any children into this disgusting world actually seems to be the only option for me.
I chose not to have children, not because I don't think I would be a great parent to them, but because first and foremost, I am black, and no matter whom I decide to conceive with my children will be tainted with the colour of my skin. Secondly, no matter the gender of my children, no matter what I teach them, I will be unable to protect them from the brutal realities of the world.
Judging from my personal experiences, I would not want to wish an existence in this world upon my daughters.
I would not want for my daughters to fall in love. I would not want for them to love and trust a man so hard, that they could possibly end up like Karabo. My children are safest in my imagination. My daughters are alive and they are happy. They are thriving in my thoughts. They do not live in a world where their sexual harassment is normalised. They are not dogged by men while walking in the street.
In their world, sunglasses and earphones are not a necessity but a choice. They drink, they get drunk, and they do other things that would get them into trouble with me. They are able to get home safely without the slightest possibility of rape hovering in their thoughts. They are friends with men and they have sexual relationships where mutual respect is a given and not negotiated. My children are happy, safe, and live in a better world than I do.