Forced Marriage, Blood and Tears
“His mother entered the bedroom around 5am. She checked the sheets we slept in. They were stained with blood. She ululated and praised me for taking care of myself.” She just lost her virginity. “Should there have been no blood, I would have been rejected. ”
Mashudu – now living in Chiawelo – was afraid, confused and traumatised. She was only 15 years old when she was forced into a marriage. It was in 1989, in December, in a village in Venda. Her focus was to finish school that year.
Mashudu’s gruesome tale started when she and friends were innocently walking home from helping female initiates in their village. Seven guys ambushed them. They dragged her away. Her friends tried to protect her, but the young men threatened to beat them up. The abductor was a local boy, who was three standards behind her at school.
“The guy announced to his elders that he found himself a wife.” At night his mother prepared them white sheets to sleep in. She was sexually assaulted. Despite her scream that pierced through the still of the night, no once came to her rescue.
“In the morning I pretended to go fetch the water. When I got to the tap, I abandoned the buckets and ran home. I found the guy’s family representatives discussing the marriage arrangements with my grandmother. She did not have a problem with the arrangement.” But Mashudu’s mother refused to let her child into that marriage. Such forced-married are unlikely to be reported to the police. The families handle them.
Both her parents were living in Johannesburg – about 400km from Venda. In January, Mashudu went to stay with them. That’s when she realized that she was pregnant. “I hated my baby. When she cried, I would just looked at her. Thus, my mother brought her up. My child did not know that I gave birth to her. She thought my mother was her mother, until she was 12 years old,” Mashudu remembers.
“When my child turned 21, she wanted to know her father. I told her how she was born. We tracked down her father in Pretoria. He was still not married. The two have a cordial relationship.”
Mashudu was very angry. Receiving Jesus as her saviour helped her to forgive her assailant. “I unconditionally love my child and know that she a gift from God,” she says.