FEMALE. This gender which I chose not to be, comes with a target on my back.
A slap to my cheek by his masculine hands. I feel the sting and burn on my face. I turn away in shame, this awakens the darker beast in him. The beast that believes I am his possession, that he can do with me as he pleases. BANG. The room is spinning. I’m losing my balance. I can feel my whole world shake like an earthquake. I fall on my knees, my hands saving me from plummeting on my face. Just when I think it’s almost over, he’s cursing at me. A kick to my stomach. Where his child is peacefully sleeping. AGAIN. AGAIN AND AGAIN. I need to get out! I need to save my child and me. We don’t deserve this. I turn over, he’s masculine hands clamp around my neck, my breaths become shorter, I Can’t move as he puts his weight on my body. I squirm like a helpless animal. My mother’s face comes to mind, this will break her. My father. This will break him. Their daughter. A victim of gender based violence. This is not what love is. This is not what they taught me.
The man who claims to love me has a look in his eye that has no remorse. No sympathy. No sense of being humane. He tells me it is my fault. He spits words of degradation at me. His fists curl up as he punches me in the eye. Again. Again and again. I know my eye will barely be open come the morning.
I feel the life in my body slowly escape me as he beats me to satisfy the beast within him. I say I pray to God, to my Ancestors. I know there is no escape now. I know I now have one fate and one fate only. So does the little soul in my womb. I have failed him. He could’ve been the next president. The best entrepreneur. But here we are now. He doesn’t even get a chance to have his first cry when he is born.
My baby and I are another statistic. Another case of gender based violence in South Africa. Another female who the justice system has failed. Another female who walked in fear for her life because she was born a female. A gender she did not choose. But it simply means I have a target on my back already. Because I’m a female.
How many more of us need to go? How many more of us must get hurt? When will the justice system have my back? When will this crime be taken seriously? When will these perpetrators be held accountable?
A black female. That’s a double sworded knife. When you try to live a somewhat normal life and you want to share it with someone special, you have to think really hard about it. Will I get hurt? What will anger him? Will it be my fault? Will my name be just another statistic of dying a brutal death at the hands of someone who claims to love me.
Poem written by BBA1 student Lebohang Ramphalile