Sarah Midgley

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Sarah Midgley

South Africans have been outraged by a series of horrific rapes and murders of women over the past few weeks, including one schoolgirl who was reported to have had her head pinched and a student at the school. university hit with truncheons.

The rapes and killings led to street protests, the Campaign #AmINext on Twitter and an online petition signed by more than 500,000 people calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty in a country struggling to reduce the high crime rate.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has pledged a series of measures to deal with the crisis, including the publication of a register of offenders, the increase in the number of "courts dedicated to sexual offenses" and penalties heavier.

Sarah Midgley, a 37-year-old mother of two living in Johannesburg's main city, is still recovering from the trauma of rape almost ten years ago.

She told Esther Akello Ogola, a journalist with BBC Africa Women & Affairs, her failure.

I was raped by my ex-boyfriend in 2010, around the time of the football World Cup in South Africa.

My ex-boyfriend mistreated me physically and emotionally for nearly 18 months before I had the courage to leave.

I had already threatened to leave several times before, but every time I tried it, he became more violent.

He kicked, sometimes choked and bit me. He constantly threatened to rape my daughters and kill them in front of me if I dared to leave him. He even tasered me once.

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I did not share this with anyone because I was embarrassed and ashamed that I could not defend myself.

I was also isolated from my family and friends because I had just divorced and my self-esteem was not at its best. My ex-boyfriend convinced me that my friends and family did not care about me. I also believed that it would hurt my babies.

When I had the courage to leave, I did it in secret. However, 10 days later, he was standing at my door.

To say that I was shocked that he found me would be a euphemism.

He said that he was only there to ask a favor for the last time. He said he did not have the money or the means to go to his uncle 's farm, located about 25 km from where I lived.

He promised that he would come out of my life completely if I drove him. I believed him.

For many years after the rape, I blamed myself for believing that he would let me go unscrupulously.

The cases that have caused outrage in South Africa since August:

  • Janika Mallo, a 14-year-old schoolgirl, is raped and dies after apparently being hit on the head with a block of concrete. no arrest has been made yet
  • Uyinene Mrwetyana, a 19-year-old student of film and first-year media studies, was reportedly lured into the post office mailroom and allegedly raped and beaten to death with a truncheon; an employee of the post office was accused
  • The first-year student of theology, 19-year-old Jesse Hess, is found dead in bed and her 85-year-old tied up grandfather in the washroom; no arrest has been made yet
  • Leighandre boxer "Baby Lee" Jengels, 25, is shot in a car by her ex-boyfriend, a police officer. he later dies of injuries that he suffered in a car accident while he is trying to run away
  • Rider Meghan Cremer, 30, is found dead in a shallow grave, apparently with a rope around her neck. three people were accused of murder
  • Lynette Volschenk, 32, a sales coach, was found in garbage bags in a building. a suspect was arrested

A little later, I realized that his body language was disabled. He seemed on the alert and I justified him by the fact that he was addicted to heroin. (Unfortunately, I discovered this a little late in the relationship).

I told him I would only go to the farm gate and then go home.

If I thought things did not seem quite right before, his subsequent actions confirmed my fears. He said that I would leave when he said that I could leave – and immediately locked the doors of the car.

Once at the farm, he ran beside me, opened my door and dragged me by the hair. When I fell out of the car, he kicked my head and I fainted.

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When I regained consciousness, I was in one of the outer quarters of the farm and he was on me. A friend had also joined him and when my ex-boyfriend was finished, he took over.

I fainted again and when I regained consciousness, they were gone and the cleaner of his uncle's farm was next to me.

I had to undergo a hysterectomy

She had a bucket of water and tried to wipe me off trying to cover me with some of her clothes. I asked him to stop and call the police or an ambulance. An ambulance arrived later and took me to the hospital.

Unfortunately, the injuries I suffered were quite extensive and I had to undergo a hysterectomy.

While this was happening, I discovered that my abuser had been released on bail and had left the city. For nine months I had to live over my shoulder.

He was eventually arrested and sentenced to eight years in prison. He died of prostate cancer and bladder cancer in 2017, seven years after his incarceration.

I can honestly say that it was the first time I had been breathing for seven years. I have never sued his friend because I could not stand the trauma of another potential audience.

I used to have nightmares as my ex-boyfriend comes back and attacks me and my kids.

I moved in with my parents because I could not stay alone.

When you are afraid of snakes, you are afraid of all snakes, even those that are not poisonous.

Unfortunately, I am terrified of men. I try not to show it and stay firm, but I do not think men realize how intimidating they can be.

I became obsessed with the safety of my children

I have been in therapy for years, partly to heal a trauma from my childhood (I was molested in my childhood), for others after the attack.

The worst thing, as a rape survivor and a mother of girls, would be to make your children suffer the pain you have suffered.

I would be devastated if what happened happened to them.

I have therefore taught my children that I would always be their safe space. They can always trust me, they have a voice and they should always use it and I will always believe them.

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I became obsessed with the safety of my children. I bought them phones and found myself constantly watching their movements and, whenever I could, I went with them wherever they went, even when they were hanging out with their friends at the mall.

Eventually, I suffered from exhaustion and I had to resume therapy to try to overcome the obsession.

Personally, I do not think we are doing enough to protect women and children in South Africa.

People do not see how serious the situation is for women, and unfortunately some of those who apologize for the attack are women who say, "What is done is done, people need to move forward and stay positive."

This is not the solution for women to be raped and murdered.

How does South Africa compare to the international?

By the BBC Reality Check Team

Comparisons of sexual violence against women can be difficult as countries record offenses in different ways and, in some cases, data are missing or are several years old.

It is also likely that many cases of sexual violence are reported in many countries.

There is data on the murder rate among women and girls, but the most recent are from 2016.

Figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) show that South Africa had the fourth highest murder rate in the world.

There were 12.5 violent deaths per 100,000 women that year in South Africa. Lesotho, Jamaica and Honduras were all higher. The world average of 183 countries included was 2.6.

According to a 2016 report by a UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women in South Africa, only one in nine rapes was reported to the police, and this number would be even lower if the woman had been raped by a partner.