‘Paedophiles tarnish ukuthwala tradition with crime’

2014-12-04 12:56

The practice of ukuthwala needs to stop, says a woman who was abducted, forced into marriage and raped.

“I’m here to say, put an end to it. Only bad things come from it,” said the woman, clad in orange and brown traditional Xhosa clothing.

She was today speaking at a briefing by the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious, and Linguistic Communities on its latest report on ukuthwala.

The woman was responding to calls from commission head Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva that ukuthwala be promoted and protected.

Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said earlier that ukuthwala was being abused by some men.

Initially it was a practice by two consenting adults who wanted to be together, but were hindered by things such as collapsed lobola negotiations. She said men who kidnapped girls to make them wives were paedophiles who tarnished tradition with crime.

The woman, however, said she wanted the practice abolished. She was abducted when she was 14 by a 50-year-old man and repeatedly raped.

“I was in Standard 2 (Grade 4), I was uneducated and I had to bear him kids,” she told the conference.

Her first child was stillborn, probably because she had had the baby at a young age.

She cried as she spoke about how the man would leave her at home while he went to Johannesburg and possibly mingled with other women.

“I never loved him and he never loved me but I had to hold on,” she said in Xhosa.

She explained the vicious cycle of being taken as a young girl.

“My own children are now uneducated because I was uneducated,” she said, taking a sip of water.

“I say do away with this practice.”

Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said she sympathised with the woman, but it was wrong to call for the dissolution of cultural practices instead of fixing problems with them.

She said it seemed to be easy for people to call for abolishing cultural practices but the same was not being done for religious practices as these were considered sacred.

“Why are cultural practices not sacred?” she asked.

Delegates at the event included traditional leaders, legal officials, and children’s rights activists.

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