A true eye-opener

I don’t often blog about my work; I don’t feel it is appropriate to do so. But last week, we dressed in purple ‘sexual violence = silence’ shirts and taped our mouths shut as a symbol of solidarity with the Rhodents taking part in the sixth annual Rhodes University #RUsilent event. It’s something that opened my eyes (while my mouth was firmly shut) – I found myself listening more to the voice in my head, getting more irritated by sounds around me than usual, and surprised that the initial hunger pangs passed after a few hours. Today’s #flashfriday piece then, is not 100% fiction as it’s based on my experience:



“The taste of glue in her mouth. Tummy rumbling and throat parched. A vague sense of pride. Recovering from a cold and thus relegated to ‘mouthbreather’ status, the silvery tape stuck over her lips initially felt cloying, almost claustrophobic. But it was all for a good – scratch that, great – cause. She knew eyes were on her as she walked around the office – not everyone understood, some laughed in derision from their safe little perches of uncaring, where the extent of their understanding was limited to Kony clicktivism. Yes she had the power to stand up for a cause. To steer away from hot drinks for a day, to keep quiet and let others ramble on incessantly, to not join on the mindless Twitter threads that take up so much of the day. And then she found it: a link to Project Unbreakable, filled with posters bravely posted by survivors, of what their attackers said to them in order to ‘keep them silent’. Page after page, horrific words and cruel images melding into one as the true accounts of abuse, often at the hands of those these men and women had loved – nay worse, ones they had TRUSTED, flowed endlessly down the screen. What right had she to complain about everyday annoyances and minor hurts if people were sucking up such cruelty and still managing to smile each day, to keep up a carefree attitude? Why were we bothering to jot down our first and third world issues if there were problems of such a deep, personal, soul-crushing nature … often swept under the table or shushed with a quick, meaningful glance? The tears flowed freely down her face – she looked up and noticed several colleagues going through the same thing. To see the raw emotion on their faces, in their eyes as their mouths were blurred and absurdly missing from the picture. It was absolute torture. It was absolutely necessary.

Silent yes, but eyes wide open.


7 thoughts on “A true eye-opener”

  1. Thanks Steve. You’d be surprised how many people just don’t get it. The #RUsilent hashtag on Twitter on the day was a mix of people saying how proud they were to support the cause and others reporting threats of further violence etc. Truly shocking.

    Glad you enjoyed the read though!

  2. A beautifully written piece, highlighting the stark reality of many unfortunate people’s lives.

    I don’t know how anyone could laugh at, or deride a cause as worthy as this.

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