I was ecstatically nervous when the ClearBlue digital pregnancy test read “pregnant” some time last year.
Random thoughts streamed through my mind. “I’m going to be a mother!” “Oh snap. No more gin and tonic to de-stress”. “I’ve already booked a flight to Bali for our girl’s trip in May. I’ll have to cancel”. “Sunday afternoons on the dance floor of Centurion Shisanyama are over. Wow!” “My parents are going to be grandparents. My brother an uncle”. “Should I tell my mom tonight or maybe once it’s all sunk in?”
Three hours later, I found myself presenting the same test to my mother in excitement. “You’re going to be a grandmother.”
While my baby’s daddy and I were suggesting names the following day, basking in the euphoria of making a life together, we both assumed we were having a boy.
I remember insisting to my mother that I’d prefer a boy because “girls get raped, Ma”.
Despite my hopes of raising a male child to be a good member of society, my maternal instincts told me it wasn’t going to be that way.
“You’re right. It’s a girl,” the obstetrician told us several weeks later.
As I saw a huge white smile grace the face of our daughter’s father, I felt a slight panic in the pit of my stomach.
How am I going to raise a girl in such a violent, patriarchal and abusive environment? How will I protect her for the rest of her life from the wolves in sheep’s clothing roaming the streets?
My friend of a three-year-old girl gave me a tip: make sure your child knows their private parts are private and she should scream if someone else touches them.
As much as that came as good, sound advice, I fear the day my daughter comes home and tells me that someone ignored her screams and continued to violate her.
The painful wailing I heard of the Mamelodi mother after she discovered her daughter was raped in the Dros toilet cubicles last year have recently returned to my mind. Her daughter was sexually attacked just a few metres from her.
Or the horrific story I recently heard of a mother coming home to find her husband raping their toddler, this also makes me feel extremely uneasy and devoid of hope in humanity.
I have become paranoid. And rightfully so. I struggle to have full trust in the men around me. I sometimes ask myself: “What if, deep down, he has a sick fetish for little girls?”
There was an episode of Black Mirror that seemed to have figured a solution to such paranoia and panic. A company offered a tracking device, which was installed in the child and their every movement could be monitored by their parent through a synchronised tablet. The parent could even use the tablet to see whatever is before their child’s eyes in real time. It also sent a notification whenever the child was not well or had ingested a toxic substance or narcotics.
But this is South Africa and not some futuristic British series. The realities are, women and children are vulnerable targets, abused, raped and taken advantage of.
All I can do for my girl is teach her about such dangers, give her some self-defence lessons, arm her with pepper spray and a tazer, and pray for God’s constant protection.