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Let her grow up!

By Michelle Katiyo, 25, Gauteng

“It’s the greatest poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.” Mother Teresa

I have come to realise that tomorrow is shaped by today, and who we are today determines what we are tomorrow. Now this realisation opened my mind to see that a child today is the leader of tomorrow. Becoming tomorrow’s leader, however, has become a ‘never-coming-true’ dream for the girl child.

One of the twisted and sickening reality that our societies are too afraid to stand up to, in full force, is the abuse of the girl child. She is being abused left, right and center; physically, sexually and emotionally. The society we are living in today views their daughters as ‘means to an end’. Hiding behind poverty to marry off a child as young as thirteen to a man as old as 50 in order to get a 50kg bag of mealie meal. This might seem like a folktale but sadly, it is reality.

My question is how does a parent sleep at night knowing that they married their adolescent daughter to a man old enough to be her grandfather if not great-grandfather? I do not call this marriage, I call this barter trade, thickly laced with abuse, violation of children’s rights with the cherry on top being purely inhumane. Not only are the daughters being married off for food but in some cases, they are being married off to ‘uphold culture’. This the 21st century, and not the iron age, wake up parents and protect the girls. Do not abuse them!

Recently, a university student in one of the universities in South Africa ran away from home and later revealed the horrific reasons for running away. Shockingly, she was escaping from a mother who constantly invited men to have sexual acts with her own daughter in exchange for money. This had been going on for quite some time and surprisingly not a soul stood up for the poor child when she was being broken both inside out.

Why not let her grow up? Why bring a child to the world and later traumatise her? An uncle sexually abusing his niece and threatening to kill her if she talks. Father abusing his own daughter and threatening to throw her and her mother out of the house if she talks. Brother raping his own sister and the family keeping it a secret for the sake of ‘not bringing shame to the family’. If she cries for help all she gets is ‘the way you dress seduces men’. What about three-year old’s who are being raped, are they seducing men in their diapers too?  The people around her look sideways when she screams, ‘please stop, you are hurting me’ all in the name of ‘I am minding my own business’ How evil can one be?

Such is the sick twisted world we live in. How can a child who has been constantly raped, emotionally tortured, and even physically abused if she refuses to ‘do as she is told’ possibly hope for a future? How can a fifteen-year-old who has been made to sleep with more men than she can possibly imagine be able to stand up with confidence and be normal like other kids?

Killing does not only involve stabbing someone and taking away their life, or poisoning someone, or shooting someone. Killing can also be done emotionally, through crushing one’s spirit as is being done to the girl child. Killing her hopes. Killing her dreams. Killing her future. In some instances, the treatment of the girl child has led to suicides. Not all killers are behind bars, most of them we are dining and wining with. They are hiding under sheep’s skins. People around us are killing the girl child emotionally so that they can live life as they wish, as they please. Without thinking twice of the damage, they are doing in the process.

Justice should be done. She should be protected. It starts with me, with you, with us. She needs to be advocated for. She deserves to be given a chance to live her life without fear of an old man coming to sexually abuse her simply because ‘mommy wants some money for food’ or ‘daddy wants to pay a debt’. She is not a means to an end, and this can never be justified. She is the future of tomorrow. The leader of tomorrow. She is not a sex slave.

This is happening and it cannot be ignored. We should be our daughters’ shields. Our sisters’ keepers. Our nieces’ protectors. Not the monsters they see when we look sideways when they are silently crying for help. She deserves an opportunity to make her own mistakes, fall, pick herself up, learn from the mistakes and be better.

Stop damaging her, let her grow up!

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1 response on this

  1. Lusanda October 22, 2020 8:57 am

    I respond to this with a very heavy heart. All the ‘excuses’ that come from a girl being abused and violated. The story of baby Tshepang comes to mind, a 9-month-old child who was sodomized by a man in the year 2001, in the streets of Cape Town. Neighbors said they heard the baby cry and then later the baby was found on the street with its legs over its head barely holding onto its life. Ladies and gentlemen this is the world we live in, it’s not okay but it is the world we strive to change. What’s the reason for this act?

    Years later an article was released stating that the girl was one of the top achievers in her school and that she was a star netball player. Her adoptive parents mention that every time the girl brought up the scar on her belly they had to lie to her and say it is from an operation that was performed on her because of birth complications. How do you tell her of the horrific event she suffered at just 9 months? The world we live in…


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