This has been an incredibly scary week for woman and people in South Africa, the amount of senseless violence and in particular gender based violence is rampant, it would seem that the world has gone completely mad, children being abducted from their schools, woman being bludgeoned in public places or being murdered by their partners, parents murdering their own children or their partners children, it really is enough to make you lock yourself and your children up indoors and never leave, only we cant.
We want to believe that our children are safe at school and then a child is taken, we want to believe our children are safe in a mall… they aren’t, this is all playing so heavily our minds, not just the minds of us as woman but as mothers, even our husbands and partners who cannot guarantee the safety of their wives, mothers, sisters or children (no matter their gender).
The feeling of sheer terror is one that I but glimpsed for 2 minutes yesterday when I went to collect my middle son from school, he jumped out the car when we got to my office, I had parked mere feet away from the door, I ducked my head behind the seat to grab his homework sheet and when I looked up… my son was gone.
I walked to the door of my office and when my colleague opened for me I asked her where Gabriel had gone, she was sitting right there with a certain amount of visibility over the parking lot and she wasn’t sure.
My heart sank; he must be playing hide and seek… I ran to the car I checked… he wasn’t there.
I started calling for him but he did not respond… I went back into my office again- are you sure he isn’t here? No!
I hit all panic stations raced outside and started frantically searching and screaming his name… he’s gone oh my god he is gone was all that ran through my head. I didn’t care who was watching who was listening the fear was overwhelming!
I stopped for a moment and then I heard it- his giggle and his voice… I raced into the open gym next door and low and behold there he was, both anger and relief overwhelmed me as I screamed at him telling him never to do that again; couldn’t he hear me screaming. His face sank and he was almost in tears how could he comprehend the sheer terror of those moments, those moments in which I thought that I had lost my child.
It all ended well for us but the truth is that anything can happen, it only takes a second and the fact that we have to live with this fear every day is completely unacceptable!
Our children have the right to feel and be safe, we as people have the right to feel safe… woman or men; at the mall or at our schools or offices, my male colleague remarked yesterday saying that he doesn’t know why all this is happening all of a sudden but the truth is this violence has been going on for a long time, people have just had enough, social media is taking over and our voices are becoming louder, the sad thing is that we have a government who promotes education with seductively placed woman holding books in adverts, we have a government who cares more about their 10 cars and their next holiday than the people who they are supposed to be protecting and that is scary.
It is time for us as a community, as a country to say enough is enough and we will not stand for it, we will not stand by as our colleagues, neighbors, friends and loved ones are taken in acts of senseless violence, we will not remain silent, take a stand starting yesterday!