Forced marriage ends in happiness

2015-06-22 14:42
Nosekile Gxalatanawas forced into marriage when she was just a ­teenager, but says she sees nothing wrong with the practice

Nosekile Gxalatanawas forced into marriage when she was just a ­teenager, but says she sees nothing wrong with the practice

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It’s not every day that a woman falls in love with an older man who abducted her and forced her to marry him. But this is Nosekile Gxalatana’s story.

When Gxalatana was 18, a 32-year-old man abducted her and forced her to marry him under the rules of the ukuthwala cultural practice. She fought the idea by disobeying him at every turn and tried several times to escape, without success.

Gxalatana, who is now 43, says she gave in after a few days because of his threats. When she refused to have sex with him in his room, he threatened to force her to have sex with him in front of his parents.

“I had to agree because I was young and naive, and the thought of having sex in front of his parents was unbearable,” she says.

That is how Gxalatana lost her virginity – which automatically meant that she had agreed to be his wife, because no man would accept somebody who has been deflowered by another man.

Everybody in her village in Uqhaka in Port St Johns in the Eastern Cape knew that she had been abducted and stayed at his home for days. They also knew that she had likely been intimate with him because that is usually what happens in the first few days after an abduction.

Two weeks after she was abducted from near her home, her husband – who died three years ago – sent representatives to her house to ask for her hand in marriage.

She says her mother was thrilled because the abduction and subsequent marriage had been discussed with her before it happened.

“At first, I was angry because I couldn’t understand how my mother could agree to this. But as time passed, I saw that my husband loved me and his entire family treated me like I was their daughter.

“I developed feelings for him. He started working in Johannesburg and often invited me to come visit him and we would have a good time,” she says.

By the time they married, Gxalatana was head over heels in love with her abductor.

Although she admits that at the time of her abduction in 1990, the practice of ukuthwala seemed barbaric and backwards, she is grateful that it happened to her because “maybe I would be dead like most of my peers, or selling apples on the street just to put food on the table. But today I am enjoying my life as a widower at my husband’s home.”
Read more on:    ukuthwala
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