The silent protest staged by four young women against President Jacob Zuma at the Independent Electoral Commission results centre has again highlighted the scourge of rape in South Africa.
The hashtag #1in3 trended for days on Twitter as women shared their rape stories.
Abongile Mbulawa (32), a typist from Port Elizabeth, was one who spoke out. Here is her story.
“I went to Alexandra township with my colleagues on June 16 2008. I asked the guy who had taken us there to take me home.
“He was my supervisor’s friend and I had met him maybe twice. On our way back, he made up some story about his car heating up and said he had to stop for a few minutes. I didn’t believe him, of course.
“He got out of the driver’s seat and came to the back seat where I was sitting. He started touching me and I told him to stop. He told me not to pretend as if I didn’t know what he had in mind.
“He got violent. I managed to get out of the car and ran, but it was after midnight in Alex, a place I had never been to before. He caught up with me, undressed me and raped me. He was not wearing a condom.
“I lay there numb. Then he took me home and said if I hadn’t been difficult, I would have been home a long time ago.
“I got home and had a bath. All I could smell was his filth. I went to work in the morning and my boss noticed I was not my usual self. He asked me what was wrong and I told him what had happened.
“We then went to the Alexandra Police Station and revisited the place where it had happened. A case was opened, but he was never arrested, even though I told them he was my supervisor’s friend.
“Later, I went to the doctor and did the tests [pregnancy and HIV] and, fortunately, everything was negative. I went for counselling and, after that, I just wanted to forget about what had happened.
“Looking back to that day, I wish I had not gone to Alex with my colleagues. Or maybe if I had stayed with them at the party things would be different.
“I’m in a relationship, and I know not all men are the same.
“I don’t have a child, but have nieces that I’m overprotective of. I just want to protect them with everything I have. They are my life."
What the law says
. Consensual sex happens when each person willingly chooses to participate
. Open communication about expectations and desires is a critical factor in obtaining consent
. Consent is verbal and clear
. Your sexual partner must be given every opportunity to communicate his or her wishes
. No means no and, when in doubt, ask first
. Consent can only be given by a person who has control of his or her mental capacities, is not drunk or high, and is legally in a position to give consent
. Even if someone has given consent, they can still say no at any time
. Use of force, intimidation or coercion is a denial of a person’s right to freely give his or her consent
Source: Women’s Legal Centre, Cape Town
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