Ukuthwala must be stopped - survivor

2014-12-04 14:05

Johannesburg - The practice of ukuthwala needs to stop, a woman who was abducted, forced into marriage and raped, said in Johannesburg on Thursday.

"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 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.

"As long as we call it ukuthwala, it won't stop," she said.

"It needs to be called jack-rolling and abduction... Name it correctly," she said.

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.

  • Chris May - 2014-12-04 14:13

    What can possibly be more sacred than how this lady feels? She has my full support.

      VaPunungwe - 2014-12-04 14:51

      Ukhuthwala is kidnapping, fulstop. No matter what the age of the victim, it is kidnapping and rape. If the victim is underage it also includes statutory rape. If both parties consent to it, then what should happen is eloping. Eloping is when a woman (above 18) voluntarily leaves he parents' home and moves in with a man because the parents are refusing to consent to the union. I am also African, Karanga from Zimbabwe (Shona). We also had such practices. Musengabere we called it. As our culture developed, we abandoned such primitive practices. Now it doesn't happen anymore. If you remember a recent case were police were assaulted by members of any apostolic sect, it was because they moved in few numbers to disband the sect because of its practice of forcing under-age girls into marriage. Of course the sect was successfully disbanded and some members are in jail for assaulting the police. If South Africa wants to become a truly modern state, it must act decisively to end practices that do not conform to modern standards of human rights.

  • Carina Red-Fox - 2014-12-04 14:14

    Cultural practices that do harm and infringe on any basic human rights should be abolished.

      Carina Red-Fox - 2014-12-04 15:20

      I did not call it a cultural practice Ms Mkhwanazi-Xaluva did when she defended the practice. My response is in reply.

  • Louis Scholtz - 2014-12-04 14:17

    Looking forward to the comments by the so called "men". This is a sickening practice.

      Bogosi Kolobe - 2014-12-04 15:02

      to the zulu's dear becouse are the one's who practise this rubbish

      Nikki Downes - 2014-12-04 15:35

      Zulus? I thought it's the Xhosa....

  • Zolani Shinya - 2014-12-04 14:48

    While the practice itself started as something from a fairytale, lovers who were denied the right to be together, would agree on the abduction. Now a good practice has been corrupted. We (Xhosas) need to do away with this because it's not in our culture to abduct by force and rape women. It just has to be stopped with no exceptions, because it has been corrupted. So many people do horrible things to others and blame culture or religion. I'm not aware of any culture or religion that promotes inhuman acts but still the are people who still beheading other and blame in on religion, some using religion and culture to advance their societal status. It's a wrong practice period it must be stopped.

  • Emone Nomore - 2014-12-04 15:30

    Culture needs to evolve with the times. What may have worked 50 years ago, may not necessarily work in today's time. The clinging to culture and certain religious practices, sometimes (as in this case) has tragic consequences. Sometimes people are so fixed on culture, that they forget about basic human rights and how to treat people fairly.

  • Tsholo Taupedi - 2014-12-04 15:34

    this is barbaric behavior period.this so called practices is to satisfy this dirty old bustards sex appetites with innocent souls.aagh this is just sick.

  • Nikki Downes - 2014-12-04 15:36

    They should put this to the vote of women. Let them say yes or no as they are the ones in grave danger when this practice is abused

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