‘Embrace your scars’

The United Methodist Church of South Africas Reverend Anita Pamla reminded women to wear their scars with pride.

With tears streaming down her cheeks, a rape survivor recounted her ordeal 13 years ago at the hands of a stranger.

Reverend Anita Pamla of the United Methodist Church of South Africa spoke of the incident and the years after it – the pain, anguish, neglect, sorrow and the loneliness and finally accepting who she was.

Today she serves as a pastor, is a motivational speaker, counsellor and a poet.

Reverend Pamla was speaking during a gathering of the Gift of the Givers and Nyanga police in Philippi last Friday when they were giving out food parcels to victims of gender-based violence and other vulnerable people. She reminded women to embrace their scars as a remembrance of the hardships they have overcome.

“I am not only a rape victim but a rape survivor. I was raped when I was 15 years young by someone I did not know but if I can draw, I can draw his face because I still have it (etched) in my mind. He raped and told me he smells blood.

“I survived because of the grace of the Lord,” she said.

She said the incident made her vulnerable to men because her family neglected her. “No one ever asked what happened. I was in pain. At that age I started dating older men because I thought let me give them what they want. Men had taken away my pride. I didn’t get counselling. I felt so alone and depressed. I stopped schooling at Grade 11. At the age of 17, I was pregnant,” she said with tears flowing down her cheeks.

After she escaped the pain and sorrow she realised there was life to live and dreams to live for.

She realised she needed to go back to school to get a better education.

She said she thought about what it is that she loves most and tried to reach her goal.

Reverend Pamla has some words of wisdom to share with abused women and young girls: “Wear your scars as best attire. Be a strong woman. Be a brave woman. Love yourself and live your dream.”

Sobbing and crying at times, she encouraged women to be themselves and be brave to face any challenge in life.

Reverend Palma also heavily condemned male behaviour generally. She said some men think everything is entitled to them. She said in church, they want to rule everything and women need to fight that.

She turned to the young women present and said; “Today we have ‘slay queens’. What is that? You want to have Peruvian and Brazilian weaves at the expense of your body. Men see sex objects in you. You must be able to do things for yourself without depending on a man. A man will think he owns you.”

The reverend made it clear that she wasn’t talking about things she knows nothing about but rather something she’s been a direct victim of and has witnessed herself.

Her recounting of her experiences left some stunned and moved to action. Luvuyo Zahela of CESVI Foundation asked men to apologise. They got up and apologised – a gesture that was applauded by the attendees.