A baby, a beat­ing and a taxi ride home

CityPress - - News - ZINHLE MAPUMULO zinhle.mapumulo@city­press.co.za

Lindelwa Sibisi’s* child­like fea­tures tell a story of an in­no­cent young girl who has not ex­pe­ri­enced the harsh re­al­i­ties of life. But this 20-year-old woman from a ru­ral vil­lage in Umz­imkulu, KwaZulu-Natal, has seen and ex­pe­ri­enced far more than most women her age.

She has been mar­ried, had a child and been forced out of her mat­ri­mo­nial home by her hus­band and his lover. On top of that, Sibisi car­ries deep scars from the emo­tional and phys­i­cal abuse she en­dured at the hands of a man who once con­vinced her to drop out of school and start a fam­ily with him.

Sibisi mar­ried her hus­band, who is eight years her se­nior, when she was 17 and still at school. Their mar­riage was ar­ranged by their par­ents un­der cus­tom­ary law af­ter she lost her vir­gin­ity to him.

She says the first few months of her mar­riage were bliss­ful. Her hus­band show­ered her with love and ev­ery­thing seemed to be go­ing well – un­til she dis­cov­ered she was preg­nant.

“His at­ti­tude changed to­wards me. He started dis­re­spect­ing me and in­sulted me ev­ery chance he got. At one point, he told me to go back home be­cause he had got­ten what he wanted from me. He be­came very abu­sive and would beat me up for no rea­son,” Sibisi says.

The emo­tional and phys­i­cal abuse es­ca­lated over time. To add in­sult to in­jury, Sibisi’s hus­band had an af­fair with her older sis­ter.

She says this was the last straw. “They would come in and he would de­mand that I pre­pare food for my sis­ter. When I re­fused, he would beat me up un­til I obliged. He did not care that I was preg­nant with his child. Day af­ter day, they would sleep to­gether in our room while I slept with his older sis­ter in the other room.

“I was dev­as­tated, help­less and had nowhere to turn. My fam­ily seemed to sup­port my sis­ter be­cause when I re­ported the mat­ter to my fam­ily, in­stead of rep­ri­mand­ing my sis­ter, my fa­ther told me to come back home.”

Sibisi, who was heav­ily preg­nant at the time, could no longer bear the abuse and de­cided to go back to her fa­ther’s house. She de­liv­ered a beau­ti­ful baby girl, but her hus­band, who was now work­ing in Johannesburg, wanted noth­ing to do with her or the child.

The young mother de­cided to travel to Johannesburg to con­front him.

“All I wanted was for him to sup­port our child, but I seemed to have an­gered him more by go­ing to Johannesburg. The day I ar­rived, we quar­relled and he beat me up. His rel­a­tives in­ter­vened and or­dered me in the mid­dle of the night to go back to KwaZu­luNatal.

“He gave me money and chased me out of his room. To make mat­ters worse, the money was not even enough for the taxi fare,” she says.

A few days later, Sibisi closed the sad and bru­tal chap­ter that had robbed her of her child­hood and was back at her fa­ther’s house with her daugh­ter.

To­day, she has no re­la­tion­ship with the fa­ther of her child.

“This trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ence has left me scarred for life. I don’t ever want to get mar­ried [again] be­cause I strongly be­lieve that men are all the same,” Sibisi says.

*Not her real name

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