These comrades will rape us all
To be a woman in a country where gender-based violence is a norm is a living nightmare.
But to be a politically active woman in an age where political organisations are a breeding ground for rapists and rape apologists is absolutely debilitating.
It's debilitating not only because the violence itself is beastly, but because those who perpetrate it are charged with being at the forefront of fashioning a higher civilisation – a society that is anchored on principles of non-sexism and the respect of human dignity.
And so when leaders of society, comrades who are tasked with creating a better life for all, are the ones who violate women, what hope is there for the rest of mankind and for women who daily are fighting a losing battle against the dehumanising violence?
Over the past few months, prominent politicians in our country have been publicly exposed as perpetrators of violence against women.
Former deputy minister of higher education Mduduzi Manana was forced to resign after being convicted of the assault of a young woman at a club.
Manana admitted to the crime, posting that he felt provoked when the victim of his assault made reference to him being gay.
The deeply embedded misogyny in such aggression, the contemptuous attitude towards gay men, is evident in his attitude.
Some day we will have a discussion on how a violent reaction towards being called gay is rooted in homophobia and expressive of toxic masculinity.
Manana was soon followed by Pule Mabe, the national spokesperson of the governing ANC.
Mabe was accused by his former personal assistant of sexual harassment.
Though the party has since cleared him of the crime, I remain firm in my conviction that the young woman was telling the truth.
I say this not only because she is a friend, someone whose integrity I can vouch for, but because I know the lengths she went to in trying to protect the ANC from the scandal.
A few weeks before the news broke, she gave me a lengthy call in which she laid bare the abuse that she [said she] had suffered at the hands of Mabe.
I pleaded with her to report him to the police and the ANC leadership, but she would not do it.
Her biggest concern was that the scandal would taint the ANC during election year.
She did not want to damage the organisation, demonstrating that she was prepared to place it above her own wellbeing.
That’s how much of a sacrifice she was prepared to make.
It is for this reason that I was extremely livid when people accused her of seeking attention.
I knew she wasn’t and I knew that had her friends, like me, not pressurised her to speak out, she would have continued to protect the reputation of a beastly man who, for four months, had [allegedly] subjected her to the worst forms of sexual harassment.
Just when we are reeling from the heartbreaking verdict of the ANC, which found no evidence of Mabe's crimes, the acting spokesperson of the same ANC is accused of rape by a young woman who alleges that Zizi Kodwa drugged her and her friend, and performed lewd sexual acts on them.
The ANC has confirmed that the young woman reported the crime to it and encourages her to report the case to the police for investigation.
I’m not going to venture into an analysis of whether or not there is any merit to the woman’s accusations, because I know better.
I know that women in this country are on the receiving end of sexual violence, so much so that it’s more likely that a woman is telling the truth than that she’s not.
As a principle, I stand by every woman who speaks out. I believe her. Always.
It is evident that women in this country have no safe space.
We are living with rapists in our own homes.
We work with them in our offices.
And even in political organisations where we think we will meet men of character, comrades, allies in the struggle for our emancipation, we find instead our perpetrators who will stop at nothing to make our bodies crimes scenes.
They will not stop until they have raped us all.