Children suffering for beauty

2011-12-21 16:15

Child abuse comes in many forms but not once did I ever think that taking a child to the hairdresser could constitute child abuse.

On my recent trip to the hairdresser to do my cornrows, I was a witness to a very different case of abuse considered normal by most; but then again most abusers consider all forms of abuse normal.

A woman walked in with her 3 year old daughter to do cornrows, I thought they were going to be done on the mother but I was shocked to learn that they will be done on the child.

Whats wrong with a 3 year old getting cornrows you may ask, well I will tell you just how this turns to abuse.

When I get my cornrows it is one trip I dread the most because the Zim women are not so gentle on the hair. In fact just before the mother of the 3 year old walked in I had tweeted about how the woman was pulling my hair as though she was removing weeds from her garden.

They pull your hair and tie it with the fake hair so much that you get a face lift without going under the knife. For 48 hours after getting my hair done it becomes impossible to laugh because the pain is too much.

I cannot even make certain facial expressions after a visit to my favorite Zimbabwean woman.

If it is impossible for me to put my head on a pillow then how is a 3 year old girl expected to sleep?

The child was fine for the first 5 minutes then started tearing up. The mother said to the hair stylist "no don't stop, she cries when I comb her hair at home" then she gave the child a cool drink.

After finishing the cool drink the child started crying again then mother gave the child a sweet. The child did not open the sweet and asked to go to the bathroom.

The child made a run for it, running away on the streets of Gugulethu because the 3 year old girl cannot take the pain.

The mother caught the child and brought her back inside but the child did not stop screaming then the mother got fed up with her screaming, stopped begging her to nyamezela (put up with the pain) and started beating her up because they are going to be late for the bus to the Eastern Cape.

This child is not the only child that experiences this kind of abuse. Most black parents will take their children to the hairdresser regularly to relax their hair or the braids.

But why must children go through this when they cannot even define their own beauty. I mean at 3 you do not know much about hair and make up. Then we get surprised when children like Mshoza want to bleach their skin to look like Christina Aguilera?

Exposing children to such fake at a young age it will be extremely difficult for them to accept or even recognise their natural beauty.

Knowing how painful the cornrows are and how the relaxer burns your scalp why on earth would you put your child through that especially the relaxer on such soft and young scalp.

Most African women consider this normal but if my daughter was in so much pain that she wet her pants, I tell you the mother would not enjoy life at all.

The 3 year old wetting her pants reminded me of my pothead uncle who enjoyed beating young boys up claiming to be 'disciplining' them. If the man called your name in a certain tone, you wet your pants because you know exactly what is coming.

The most scary part is that this is a widely accepted practice where children are beaten up as a form of discipling them.

Well I am a very disciplined young man but I would not credit the abuse for that but the Catholic priests and nuns did a good job teaching us about respect.

The beating does not in anyway instill discipline but does a great job in instilling fear and a lot of anger.

If you have a child, please do not ever raise your hands on them no matter how angry they make you. They are children so let them be children and annoy you.

Remember that children depend on their parents for protection, now who will they run to when they get beaten by the people who are supposed to look after them?

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