Rural women demand to be heard

Canaan Mdletshe

Rural women prevented from taking part in this week's 4th World Congress of Rural Women, in Durban, say they want their plight taken to the country's top decision makers.

They said their stories must be told and their voices heard.

More than 600 women, representing 14 civil society associations, complained that they had been banned from the congress.

Prisinah Madida, 59, of Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal, had 12 children. Six of them died poor and without dignity "because the farm owner treated them like dirt" .

"I am deeply hurt that I have been excluded from this conference. All I wanted was to get a chance to tell my story. Rural women suffer exploitation and prejudice daily," complained Madida.

She told Sowetan that in 1994 the farm owner set his dogs on her.

"The doctors told me that the dogs carried a disease that blinded me . I can no longer bear children because the dogs savaged my private parts and my womb was damaged," she said.

Nokuzola Mthalane, from Vryheid, said that people unfamiliar with the problem could participate in the conference but those who dealt with rural women's problems were left out .