Tamara Madikane, from the NGO Family Federation, handed out green ribbons to signify child protection, with 5-year-old Nandi Tembe at City View shopping centre in Greyville. She said the ribbons were to remind people of child abuse. They also distributed white ribbons against the abuse of both women and children. The ribbons were linked to the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign, which ends on December 10. Family Federation also planned to distribute more ribbons in other areas to raise awareness. BONGANI MBATHA African News Agency (ANA)
Durban - At the tender age of 13, a now 45-year-old Pietermaritzburg woman said she was accused of being in a sexual relationship.

Her mother would regularly subject her to virginity checks in her bedroom. The traumatic experience and the constant accusations exposed her to sex, although she had no informed knowledge of what sex was really about.

Without any education about the significance of retaining her virginity, or the consequences of having sex, the accusations and the random virginity checks by her mother often gave her sleepless nights.

“Girls my age often had conversations about boys, but no one really spoke about sex. This was a scary subject for me as it was never properly addressed at home,” she said.

Growing up in an era of high teenage pregnancy, she now realises that her mother probably chose the easy way out, scaring her instead of educating her to make informed decisions.

“I remember coming home an hour late one afternoon from school because my school bus was late, and I got a beating because I was accused of sleeping around,” she said.

“She beat me with a sjambok and told me that she would kill me if I was fooling around with boys. She demanded that I remove my underwear.

“She didn’t have to tell me twice and I knew that another virginity check was expected next. Once she was done, she told me to get dressed and go outside to cry.”

Each time this happened, she was left confused about what she had done wrong and why she was always accused of such terrible things.

She said the accusations of sleeping with, or fooling around with, boys made her feel sexually harassed, and was too harsh for a 13-year-old.

She often wished her mother had spoken to her about sex instead of all the accusations when she did not have a boyfriend at the time. She was afraid to speak to the boys in her neighbourhood, fearing her mother’s reaction.

The accusations continued when she went to university, but were not as intense.

After graduation, she secured a job in Pietermaritzburg, moved out of her family home and met her first boyfriend that year.

“I believe that what she did and used to say to me was wrong, however I think she did it to scare me away from boys.

“It was only after I moved out that I stopped fearing my mother and the male species.

“Even though I am still haunted by her accusations, I have forgiven her and have some understanding that she probably did those things with my best interests at heart.

“We now have a wonderful relationship and she is a wonderful grandmother to my 15-year-old, whom I want to raise differently.

“The wrong things we say or do to our children have devastating effects. There is no parenting manual in life, our fears as parents can make us say and do the wrong thing to protect our children - we must always take time to think about the consequences.”

Daily News