In the middle of a pandemic, why can't men just stop killing us

Tshegofatso Pule's body was found hanging in a piece of open veld on Monday. The writer wonders if some men woud cease fire and allow women to at least live through the pandemic?
Tshegofatso Pule's body was found hanging in a piece of open veld on Monday. The writer wonders if some men woud cease fire and allow women to at least live through the pandemic?
Image: Supplied

Tshegofatso Pule was a beautiful young woman from Meadowlands, Soweto. She was eight months pregnant. A baby shower was planned for June 27, to celebrate the imminent birth of her baby.

Invitations have been sent out, friends had RSVP'd. It was going to be a wonderful day for the young mother who was evidently looking forward to the birth of her baby.

But Tshegofatso is not going to attend her baby shower and her baby will never be born, because a few days ago, she was stabbed to death.

Her body was found hanging from a tree.

Around the same time that Tshegofatso was dying, the beautiful Naledi Phangindawo was also fighting for her life, a thousand kilometres away in the township of KwaNonqaba in Western Cape.

Like Tshegofatso, the 26-year-old was stabbed repeatedly. She died of her injuries in hospital. Two young children have been left without a mother.

I wish I could say I'm shocked by the deaths of these two young women, but I would be economic with the truth.

Horrific though they may be, these deaths have become so common in our country that the real shocker would have been if women had been allowed to live through this pandemic.

It would have been shocking if, just for a few months, the slaughter that has claimed the lives of thousands of women in our country was paused.

We are in the middle of a global health emergency. The world as we know it has changed dramatically over the last few months.

Anxiety has accompanied this change. We are all afraid of what the future holds for our country.

We are afraid to make big decisions about money because none of us can confidently guarantee that we will still be having our jobs or businesses a month from now. We are anxious about sending our children back to school because we do not know if they will come back home healthy.

Every day, the government releases statistics about the latest Covid-19 deaths, active cases, and recoveries - and the numbers are growing exponentially.

What was once a pandemic affecting other countries, killing other people, is now killing our own.

While we battle these and other anxieties, we are also battling with the anxiety of wondering whether we, women, are going to die of coronavirus or if we are going to die in the hands of our intimate partners.

We wonder every day whether we are going to be raped and killed in taxis that are now loading fewer passengers.

For us, fewer passengers don't mean safe distancing, it means less people for the driver to drop off - which means a greater probability that we could be alone with him in the taxi.

We wonder every day if we are safe in our offices because the less colleagues there are, the less potential witnesses there could be should we somehow vanish and be found stuffed under our work desks.

We wonder and we are anxious because the scenarios are not imaginary, they have happened before, and they continue to happen.

We know the names of Tshegofatso and Naledi because they are the ones making headlines.

However, the reality of the situation is that there are many other women who have, since the beginning of the lockdown, been killed and assaulted by men.

According to the minister of police, Gen Bheki Cele, more than 87,000 gender-based violence complaints were reported in the country in 2019.

May I ask kindly, gentlemen, that you spare us at least until we get through the Covid-19 pandemic? Can you, just for now, cease fire and allow us to live?

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