Ask women what their greatest fear is today. Most women who are critical thinkers will tell you their greatest fear is being a woman in a male-dominated society. Whether at work on in social, legal, cultural or family situations, being a woman makes us vulnerable.
Women have become little more than physical and emotional punching bags for men.
We don’t feel safe anymore because any time we can be sexual prey for weak and insecure men. The statistics are increasing everyday: young women and girls raped, molested or killed at an alarming rate.
My question is how much longer is the government going to wait until they enforce the laws against Gender based Violence (GBV)? When will leaders in communities speak out against the objectification of women and girls?
We are tired of being treated like commodities. We are tired of being seen as only capable of cooking, cleaning, or making and raising children. We can do that AND a host of other management, entrepreneurial, leadership, and intellectual pursuits.
If you are a woman and you haven’t yet been molested in any way, consider yourself lucky. Notice how I said “haven’t yet”? Because chances are, all women either have been or soon will be victims of some form of sexual abuse, aggression or violence.
If you challenge a man’s sexual assault or even attempt self-defence actions, the guy may insult you and call you names in front of everyone. No one will come to your aid in these tense situations. If the police are called, they will degrade you even further as the majority of them are very gender-biased and treat claims of black women with disdain.
A week ago. I was walking to town from work. A man who I assumed was the same age as my grandpa followed me. He was polite and tried to start a conversation with me in a fatherly way. He asked where I was working and we engaged in small talk and walked together as it seemed that we were headed the same direction. Just when I was about to reach the shop the conversation took a major twist that I didn’t see coming. He started boasting that he had money and asked if I had a boyfriend. I was confused, but mostly disgusted. I didn’t reply. I just started hurrying off. He called after me rudely and ran to catch up with and he angrily retorted, “You women don’t have manners these days. I kept you company on your way here and you want to get away that easy?”
He argued about how I was going to be robbed if I walked alone and that I should be thankful he walked with me. I dismissed his scolding and he threatened that he would call his “boys” to rob me.
I was shocked. I didn’t know what to say, I hurried until he was out of sight and went in a shop. I was about to pay at the teller when I felt someone cup and squeeze my butt. I turned around to see that it was the same old man. I stepped away and told him that he should be ashamed of himself. But, he shouted and swore at me and said despicable things. He threatened he would wait for me outside the shop. This happened in full view of many people.
From that day on, whatever other worries I had fled and were replaced by one fear: being a woman in a sexist society. I now feel vulnerable every time I walk in the streets. There are cases every day of women being killed by men; that makes me even more afraid. Just last week yet another man killed his wife and later took his own life.
I cannot imagine what could have caused that man to be so angry that he decided to end someone’s life.
Black women must be treated like we also belong. Would that old man have grabbed another older man’s butt? A younger man? A white man or woman, regardless of age? I’d bet not. The people who saw what he did, acted like nothing was happening or laughed or looked away. Younger black women are equal human beings to anyone else. We demand respect.
The government must up-its-game with penalties for such inhumane and heartless offences. Schools and families must educate boys to treat women as equals in all things. No woman wants to be afraid of sexual objectification or any form of GBV when crossing paths with a man. It is no way for us to live. Otherwise womanhood will become our most deadly fear. We have a right to feel a sense of security and belonging, too.