DINNER WITH AN AFTERTASTE
Tonight´s dinner had more than wonderful, home cooked food on the menu. We were served big smiles by the people in the township. But also some shocking facts about women in South Africa. Here, it is more likely for a woman to be raped than to get an education.
Women´s Day is just over this week here in South Africa. It is a national holiday to celebrate women´s rights and their uniqueness. But being born into a life as a woman in South Africa can bring many challenges.
I bet you have heard the word "rape" and "South Africa" in one sentence before. Here, statistics show that one in three women are likely to get raped in their lifetime.
That means that it is more likely to get raped, than to get an education.
- Have you heard about "blessings?" We are eating home cooked food in a house in the township Khayelitsha, about half an hour drive from Cape Town city center. "It is becoming more and more common", says the woman who is leading our discussion. "Many men are now giving gifts to women in exchange for sex. These can be young women or girls, students at university who needs food or simple things they are lacking to get by in their daily life."
It is called it a "blessing", but for the girl or woman, it is a way of surviving. Many can barely afford university, and when the fees are paid, they need money for food. Or they don´t have money at all. Men with more money take advantage of it. "This is such a wrong use of that word!" says Olivia from the Netherlands who is a Catholic. "This is definitely not a blessing for these women".
- What about dry sex? I ask, since this is a topic we have learned about in university. I talk about how some women buy herbs or even use sand to dry their vagina out, so that it will be more pleasurable for the man to have sex. Apart from the pain it causes for the woman, a dry vagina with cuts also creates a higher risk for transmitting HIV and AIDS. Some little shops in townships in South Africa supposedly sell these herbs for women.
The "nice" uncles in the neighborhood
We also talk about how many kids finish school early in the afternoon, and that their parents or whoever takes care of them does not come home until later. This creates a gap in the afternoon where many kids are home alone. "I have heard that some men in the neighborhood takes advantage of this and sexually abuse the children", I say. "Yes definitely. Sexual abuse of children here is very common," says the woman who is leading the debate.
We are finishing up the home cooked meal and end our discussion. A few big hugs later, and we
step outside into the streets of the township where so many South Africans live their lives.
Outside the house, the little kids are happy to meet us. The tallest man in the group is the most popular, they all line up to sit on his shoulders.
These kids smile big, but what society are they growing up in? "The problem is that boys here at a very young age think it is cool to be a player. Boys want many girlfriends, and the girls want to be with the most popular boys. And so it seems OK to treat women badly, by having many at the same time and even forcing them to sex", says one of the men who lives in Khayelitsha. He thinks it is hard to change the mentality many men have towards women. "The parents don´t know what to do. They are also a part of it. It is hard to change."
Do you want to have dinner and visit Khayelitsha? The project was started to get more people to come together from inside and outside the township and to learn from each other. Every month there is a new dinner and a new topic. Check out the project "Dine with Khayelitsha" here: