I long for the day women are allowed the right to be

The writer says that she longs for the day that women are allowed the right to be.
The writer says that she longs for the day that women are allowed the right to be.
Image: 123RF/ HONGQI ZHANG

One of my favourite things in the world, is watching little girls play.

How easily they make up stories that drive their days as mommies to dolls with a missing a limb or two. The songs they make up as they skip about, with glee stretched across their little faces. Like when we were younger, playing 'diketo' and 'mgusha' .

I use 'we' lightly here because as a fat little child, I wasn't really the most preferred teammate, but I could participate in the joy, delight and squeals of laughter. Enveloped by the sense of belonging only to each other and ourselves and claimed happiness and that freedom as ours without a doubt.

Unfortunately, the world and life as we know it is engineered in such a way that all the above are strangled and bludgeoned out of little girls as they transition, firstly into teenagers, then adults.

You go from a little girl, happy and carefree to a person who must act, look and sound a particular way.

It starts with going on your periods. Now, your responsibility is to keep boys away from you so you don't fall pregnant. Somehow boys can't help themselves, and so you must help the poor things.

All the while hiding your pad or tampon when you leave the classroom for the bathroom so that the boys, oh the fragile things, don't see it and have to deal with the fact that your vagina bleeds every month.

Then come the house chores which build up into girls becoming free catering services at family gatherings. Once, at a family gathering, I asked that the male cousins come help with food preparation and my one aunt quickly said that they can't because they were hungover. That was my cue to go sit down because, my words to her were "I drink more that all of them combined."

Needless to say, relations between me and said aunt are strained to date.

You are taught chores because "Who will marry you?" Hopefully someone who has arms and legs and the ability to switch on a stove?

Don't drink too much coke because "it will make you infertile." First off all, Dr 'Aunt with just matric' shouldn't I be more scared of diabetes than not having children, the former could literally kill you. No, be more sacred of the inability to bear children for this man that you must cook for and hide your bleeding vagina from.

Radio broadcasters have come together to fight gender-based violence with a campaign that asks us to turn the radio down when we hear signs of domestic abuse.

Every time that advert plays on the radio, I remember the trajectory of a woman's life as per above. How nothing in this world is for women, not even peace of mind during a pandemic. A painful reminder that nothing of yourself belongs to you where men are concerned.

We have catered to men from when they were boys, and made them believe that women exist sorely for their comfort.

How else are they so emboldened in their abuse? How else do they come to know that nothing about us belongs to us? Not even our right to life? We are going through a global pandemic and you can't even rest your abuse?

Hopefully, when we survive this pandemic, we can go back to sights of little girls playing, carefree and happy. And start to think about how best to preserve that so that they don't grow into adults and live in a society that needs to turn down their radios just to make sure someone isn't trying to kill them.

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