Growing up eKasi you unknowingly learn toxic behaviours which you carry to you adult life. You don’t even realise that these things are toxic because they are a norm in your surroundings.
One of these things for me was, when I was in high school girls my age were ‘in relationships’ with men who were already in the work force and or in college/university. I thought this to be something normal, and people who would just say, “Girls develop faster than boys” and “Age is just a number.”
I believed this and sort of ran with it. It wasn’t until my young adult life I realised how not okay this is.
I have realised that age is NOT just a number. You have people who are over 20 years old ‘in relationships’ with 16-year-olds. This is not okay on so many levels, and this discussion has been had many times on social media platforms.
You get people saying that age of sexual consent in South Africa is 16 and if no one is being hurt why is this an issue? Though the age of consent is 16, there’s one stipulation that most people forget about. This is called “statutory rape.” If the parents decide, they are allowed to go through the criminal procedure by opening a case against the perpetrator. If the court determines that the child did not possess the mental capacity to be considered “emancipated” to make decisions like an 18-year-old adult, then the person on the other end will be in a lot of trouble.
This is a problem and I believe this is rooted in paedophilia, because you get most of these men get in ‘relationships’ with children that grew up in front of them. We see ibraz every day eKasi looking at kids they used to walk to school and saying, “Uyakhula ngoku” – you’re growing up. And when you call them out on it they defend themselves and mention the age gap between our parents.
I don’t get how they do not know that a 32-year-old woman and a 45-year-old man is not the same as 25-year-old man and 16-year-old girl.
My other point is that, though we may say and or think that no one is being hurt in these ‘relationships’ there’s a lot of manipulation that happens.
I believe that these men prey on young girls because they are able to manipulate them as they are more mature than the girls are. They have accumulated years of knowledge and the immaturity of the young girls makes them make questionable decisions.
They are also luring in girls with materialistic possessions that they know boys the girls’ age cannot provide. They also know that these things do not faze women their age because they can get their own.
In these ‘relationships’ there is also a power imbalance because the guy is older, in some cases, the girl doesn’t feel confident enough to stand her ground and be assertive.
We may think no one is not being hurt, but the manipulation and gas lighting that happens in these relationships break young women and have them grow up to be adults who doubt themselves and their abilities.
Whatever your opinion on this issue, remember that gender-based violence in South African is a very big problem that we should all be trying to fight. Unequal relationships in which manipulation and gas lighting occur are a form of abuse. We need to stand up for a more equal society – and this applies to our relationships as well.
Read more about one writer’s thoughts on gender-based violence in South Africa, here.
Tell us: Do you agree with the author? Why or why not?