eNCA's Checkpoint aired a show called "Cut and Run" on Tuesday evening, where they shed light on a phenomenon that has been an issue for quite some time now in South Africa. The show had a look at how people steal dreadlocks from individuals on the street, or threatening people and leading them to vacant buildings to cut their hair off. The dreads are worth anything from R1,000 upwards, depending on how long they are.
One of the women on the show last night retold her story of how her dreadlocks were stolen from her head. As she recounted her ordeal, she narrated how she went to the hair salon to get a treatment and style for her dreads, when the stylist cut off a chunk her dreads off and covered the spot by styling over that patch of her head.
The anthropology student, Sandra Agodi, said: "It is the same way as raping you. I am sorry to say it this way, but to me, that's what he did. He violated me."
This statement (watch the video below) is not only problematic but it is triggering. Agodi could have described her trauma without juxtaposing it to something else, especially not rape.
It is uncalled for to justify the validity of one's ordeal -- no matter how traumatic it may be - to another form of assault. There are many incidences of aggression that are perpetrated by violent masculinity on the bodies of women and some women are even killed as a result of sexual assault and rape. Yes, Agodi's experience was traumatic, one cannot take away from her lived experience at all. However, gender-based violence, sexual assault and murder and both domestic and sexual violence can never be compared to the trauma of losing hair.
Pumla Dineo Gqola argues through her book, Rape: A South African Nightmare, that the national rhetoric on rape incidents in South Africa reflects the prevalent denialist attitudes held by the people of this country.
This denialist attitude that Gqola speaks of is mimicked in how our society makes light of the dire situation that women find themselves in. Rape is oftentimes merely passed around over dinner tables and consumed when major news stories about incidents where women have been killed as a result of GBV, thereafter it is soon forgotten.
Let us not trivialise each other's lived experiences, one shouldn't feel it necessary to highlight one's point and give it weight by negating the next point or experience. At all.