It was a day unlike any others; she was still in grade three and was in the aftermath of aunt Regina’s funeral. It was late in the afternoon. Both, the little children and the big children were all reminiscing about memories with their aunt, and the last time they had seen each other.
Late into the evening it was decided that the older and younger children would sleep together in the other house, which had one bedroom, while the adults slept in the other house about 10 metres away.
Deep into the night, Dimpho woke up to the troubling realisation that her older teenage cousin, Thoriso, was actually groping her behind and privates, she felt very uncomfortable but did not know why. Things became worse when Thoriso started dry humping her on her thigh.
Her little mind working fast, she pretended to be waking up, yawning, and rubbing her eyes. It worked because Thoriso stopped and pretended to be asleep.
Dimpho woke up, went to the bathroom and pretended to urinate. She returned to the room, took one blanket, made herself comfortable, prayed that the weird thing that happened would never happen again. She was young and did not know what it was but it sure felt wrong.
Dimpho thought of telling an adult but how would she explain it. At nine years old, it was hard to tell someone that an older person touched her private parts and it made her uncomfortable. She never had the warning talk with anyone.
Time went on and Dimpho was now at the age of 20, and had still buried the incident deep into her memory. This was until 2017 when the #MeToo movement surfaced. She was also very much troubled by the death of Karabo Mokoena and many other victims of gender-based violence.
In the beginning of 2018, Dimpho had the AHA moment to drop her medicine degree to study criminal law. Because studying law would enable her to properly advocate for people whose rights were violated against by predators of this world. She also joined a non-profit organisation started by Constance Nyefolo known as “Victors Not Victims” that deals with everything related to rape. Also aiming to provide support groups for victims, self-defence classes, court preparation, and a team that attends court cases throughout South Africa.
The year 2019 was a gloomy year for Dimpho as the death of Uyinene Mrwetyana and the many other victims of gender-based violence caused a public outrage, which saw the hash tag #AmINext coming to life? She was also humiliated in public by a chauvinistic male who, before her, was cat-calling and swearing at another women calling her “Ma Cookie” in Sesotho. He did the same thing to her as she went past him. That street was always busy, always filled with men. She turned back, shocked, and stared at him, as her cheeks turned pink and slowly raised her middle finger.
She paced quickly, and not even three seconds had passed when she was reprimanded for her behaviour by another male vendor. Too astonished to react, she quickly ran in case he was following her. She won her power back but was, however, disappointed how toxic masculinity supports toxic masculinity.
The year 2019 was also a year where she had to help her sister write a compelling essay that touched on gender-based violence and how society has many rapists, paedophiles, and misogynists. Single mothers believe in patriarchy, tradition of hiding family secrets, enduring shame and victim-blaming.
Raising girls and boys differently creates a sense of entitlement from boys. Men expect women to cook, clean, look after children and be their slave all in the name of being ‘wife material’. #AmInext? #Toxicmasculinitymustfall!
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