Reading ‘Period Pain’ by Kopano Matlwa

Neighbour, have you heard of corrective rape in the context of xenophobic violence? Amongst all the themes in this book, this is the one that stayed with me.

Raping an anti-xenophobic woman so that she can stop supporting or associating with foreigners. I’ve mostly paid attention to corrective rape where lesbians are concerned, and Period Pain extended my knowledge on the subject.

I started the book at a rather sluggish pace, and had it not been for how deep and shocking the events started to unfold along the way, I would have put it down as a disappointment. It’s sort of an epistolary novel where she speaks to herself, to the reader but mostly Jesus and/or God but the writing style for me was more of an amateur rant.

If you’re Christian or subscribe to a similar belief system, you will enjoy the Bible quotes and many references throughout the book.

Matlwa reveals the layers under a system that is rotten to the core. The xenophobia in South Africa is horrifying, the gender-based violence revolting, and both issues deprived of the necessary attention.

It’s worth the time to go on this heart-wrenching journey with Masechaba as she goes through the bumps, the abysses and the storms of selfhood, of trying to find answers to questions that don’t have answers. Pages and pages of a haunting reality that is in South Africa. It leaves you with a lot to think about.

How does one help or support victims of a crime when speaking out or taking any form of action makes them a target of the same crimes? Do we draw a veil over what’s happening for our own safety?

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