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‘A tradition of silence and hiding our scars’: SA’s women speak out

2019-09-16 23:30

A woman who claims she suffered a brutal physical attack at the hands of her husband has broken her silence on how she got the beating of her life when she confronted him about raping his niece.

The 52-year-old troubled woman told City Press last week that she decided to speak out now after seeing an increasing number of women being killed by their intimate partners.

“A tradition of silence and hiding our scars is over. I’ve buried my pain for many years for the sake of protecting my husband. The reason it took me time to speak about this is because I didn’t want to expose the person I love and I thought if I speak out, it was going to compromise my marriage and children,” she said.

City Press cannot name the victim to protect the minor.

Last month City Press reported a story of a senior government official and choir manager at a prominent church in Gauteng who has been charged with raping his niece.

In the story the mother of the minor alleged her daughter was raped by her uncle when she was nine.

City Press cannot name the mother or her sister, who now alleges she, too, was physically attacked by her husband – the same man accused of raping her niece.

The sister, who is a gender activist and works for government, said she pressed the charges against her husband to protect the girl because “as a mother of four I was protecting my niece”.

“Opening a rape case against my husband was not being spiteful but doing the right thing for the innocent child. I reported the case with a clear conscience because when my niece related the story to me for the first time, I believed her. But also, if I kept quiet, I would have failed every woman,” she said, adding that her husband allegedly beat her because all she was asking from him was to man up and admit that he forced himself on to the minor.

“It’s about time abusive men took responsibility and admission [of abuse]. It is always important for perpetrators because it helps us in our journey of healing as victims.”

She said she was helpless when her husband physically attacked her. “I have a blister on my eye which is a constant reminder of that horrific day. I was helpless and I thought he was going to kill me.”

Opening a rape case against my husband was not being spiteful but doing the right thing for the innocent child.

Even though she went to the hospital, she refused to fill in the J88 form (a legal document that is completed by a medical doctor, documenting injuries sustained by the victim in any circumstance when a legal investigation is to follow).

She said she didn’t want to fill in the form because she didn’t want to see her husband behind bars.

The husband refused to comment and referred enquiries to his legal team.

His advocate denied that his client assaulted his wife, saying the allegations were false.

But she stuck to her story.

“I had already concluded that I would not lay charges against my husband after the church leaders’ involvement. I was ready to give him another chance because it wasn’t the first time – this was the third time.”

Speak out to those close to you because telling your story will set you free. When the physical attack happens once, walk away, because he is going to kill you

The couple, who have been married for 24 years, are living in separate homes.

“I am ready to lodge a complaint of common assault against my husband at the nearest police station. But sharing my story has helped me to pick myself up and fight for what is right for me and other women. I refused to be swallowed by depression. It is a silent killer.”

She has advised other victims of abuse to speak out. “Be true to yourself and don’t try to hide the true reflection of what you are going through. Speak out to those close to you because telling your story will set you free. When the physical attack happens once, walk away, because he is going to kill you.”

Richard Levin, director-general of the public service and administration department, said they have noted the media reports on the allegations and viewed them in a serious light.

“The department reiterates that the government outrightly condemns any act of violence or abuse against women and children, and those found to be committing such heinous acts should face the full might of the law,” Levin said.

He said the department encouraged women who were subjected or exposed to any abuse, whether at home or any other environment, to immediately report the matter to relevant crime authorities to receive necessary justice.


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October 13 2019