This day in 2006, Willem van der Merwe handed down a prison sentence to a rape survivor. It wasn’t just a prison sentence, it was an ex-excommunication. An exiling. A sacrificing at the altar of hetero-patriarchal politics. A public lynching. An annihilation. An erasure. A powerful exhibit the criminal justice system as it is, is an instrument of power and the powerful. A tool of racist, classist misogyny. Designed for aiding, abetting, cementing the citadel of the hetero-patriarchal system.
The trial showed us things about ourselves, the people who govern us today, our society that explain why navigating life is a “nightmare” experience for the people who live in bodies called “women”.
Yesterday we celebrated with tears of grief and joy, One in Nine Campaign’s 10th birthday. The Kanga was in the room. She spoke of how she has been rising since that day. How she has been leaving and fighting to live, in search of a home since then. How she has been building her nest in the place inside that they couldn’t annihilate. How that beautiful mother became sword and shield. How feminist friendship and solidarity is our ultimate hope for survival and triumph against the system whose tentacles are forever multiplying.
It was a sad day. It was a happy and beautiful day. It was a celebration of feminist courage. It was a séance to the many bodies of courage, to young women at universities and the streets who are saying to the system #timeisup! It was a bold confrontation to the rest of us: what else are you still afraid of? What else can they do to you? What else is there to lose?
(Photo Credit: Siphokazi Mthathi)