Culture: the tool for the oppression of women

I want to know why culture is relevant only when it is used to oppress females? I want to know why culture is touted and revered when men stand to benefit? And why is culture only adhered to when women are deemed to be ‘out of control’?

Where is culture when children grow up without their fathers because the men simply use women as relief chambers and walk away, take no responsibility and leave women with the burden of care?

Where is culture when children are head of families because communities are oblivious when their parents die from HIV?

Where is culture when old people are dumped in old age homes and their off-spring live in high end apartments in upper class surburbs?

Where is culture when, after the Middle East, we currently have the highest rate in the world of sexual assault on children under 12?

Where is culture when women are targeted and killed by the very same men who impose culture to govern our thoughts, our actions, our demeanour, our lives?

Culture is a convenient tool used by patriarchy to keep women in our place.

Far worse when culture is used as a lethal weapon by women to oppress other women, to subject them to the pain they felt when they were culturised and could not escape.

Bring culture and ask it for me where it was when my mother died and I was thrown from one home to the next for all my teenage years, barely surviving a near rape experience because not one member of the community thought to implement the old cultural belief: umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu!

Bring culture to tell me why I’m raising children alone.

Bring culture to explain why our mothers were run down, cleaning and cooking for their in-laws while their husbands were living it up in the cities. They allowed their wives to be maids for their geriatric parents never considered giving a salary for their work.

Wake up! Culture, over centuries, became a tool for the oppression of women.

By Nokulunga Nobuhle Zondo

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