The women are okay

From the tour we did yesterday, there were many of my fellow classmates who seemed eager to focus on Fordsburg and the Somali’s in the Mayfair area.

As a journalist, I believe that focusing on minorities is essential because voices are important. I have expressed my hesitance towards homeless people because I think telling the story of a homeless person would be false. False because I have an inclination to help a homeless person instead of exploiting them just so I could get a good mark. Marks are not everything.

I’ve only been a real practicing journalist for a year and I do believe that I am a journalist, from my core, but I know that reporting on homeless people rarely ever helps them unless it’s done properly and I’m not confident in doing that.

The role of women in little Mogadishu struck me though. Walking around in the streets in the Somali community in Mayfair and visiting the stores, I witnessed that there were very few women around. The tour guide had told us that Somalis prefer women to be home… When he took us to the local masjied (mosque), there was no facilities for women. As a Muslim woman I felt very distressed by this. I didn’t like it at all.

That feeling stayed with me and I still feel today, a day after the tour. However I took it as a learning experience. When in-depth started I was confident because I thought I knew the area but I was sorely mistaken.

As a journalist I believe I have an obligation towards these women. Not because I feel like they’re oppressed. I don’t believe that they are but my obligation I think is to explore the ways in which this is not about oppression or empowerment but the confidence these women have in their religion to express it in the way that is acceptable to you and your relationship with the almighty, not anybody else. There is power in that.

Women in Islam live different lives to women in the broader South African society. The world and society needs to know this.

“I am within and without. Enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”

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