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Slaves in our own country

A group of young San women told the Ombudsman last week how they are forced into child marriages and then have to struggle to raise children without access to adequate medical services.

The San women were brought to Windhoek by the Women’s Leadership Centre. They hail from Bushmen communities at M’kata, Tsintsabis, Drimiopsis and Omega 1. While in Windhoek, they had the opportunity to speak to the Ombudsman, Advocate John Walters (standing in the back, right).
Speaking for themselves the young San women told Advocate Walters how young girls are forced into child marriages for money, and how they are not encouraged to go to school but rather to look for someone who can take care of them. They also emphasised the fact that they hardly get any medical assistance, saying there is a stereotype that San people, especially women can go through anything, injury or pain and still survive without any medical help. They said they are not safe in their communities and claimed that some of the culprits who hurt or rape them are members of the police. The women explained to the Ombudsman that they feel like second class citizens and that nothing has changed since the era of the Germans and the South African government, they are still being treated like slaves. Advocate Walters said he will inform the relevant ministries about these issues and if they do not help the San communities, he will personally help them to stop these atrocities from happening, adding that nobody should be treated like the San communities are treated. (Photograph by Mandisa Rasmeni).

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