Earlier this week, South African women took to the streets to march against gender-based violence, rape and sexual assault. 

We reported that this protest, #TheTotalShutdown, was inspired by a variety of women from all walks of life who all came together because of one common goal: to fight for safe spaces for women in a country that’s so plagued by rampant violence against women.

And particularly intimate partner violence.

READ MORE: WATCH: "We deserve to not live in fear that one of us might be the next to lose their life"

According to TimesLive, a new study reveals that while some young women may choose older partners, they admit that the biggest downfall of having a blesser is that they feel too scared to even ask them to wear a condom.

Dave Chambers from TimesLive reports that the study that revealed these findings (amongst others) were focused around questioning about 110 women in rural Limpopo and urban Johannesburg. 

The core area they wanted to look at was to see how women perceive violence against them within the parameters of age-gaps in relationships.

The alarming response above was only one from the many women who revealed that the benefits of having economic security is weighed down by a pervasive fear of violence.

In one instance, a woman revealed that she wouldn’t even feel brave enough to ask an older man to go for an HIV test, because it would be too much of a risk in terms of provoking him to violence.

Now of course the argument I can anticipate here from people is the one where women are berated for taking hold of their agency and victim-blamed because they should know better than getting themselves into that situation right?

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The onus should be on them to know what to expect because they’re offering sex for money? And that they owe it to their blessers to submit to their demands and avoidances – even if it includes not wanting to go for an HIV test.

No.

A woman should not have to sacrifice her right to health and safety and resign herself to threats and violence simply because her lifestyle is being financed. 

Unfortunately, what the study seems to reveal is that these young women feel beholden to their blessers and the relationship exposes them emotionally and physically.

But a relationship, regardless of any arrangement (be it a hookup, casual friends with benefits, long-term or blesser-blessee) is one that should be based on trust and if someone is asking you to go for an HIV test, the correct response should never be to resort to violence.  

READ MORE: Video of woman being hit by a street harasser goes viral for many reasons

The sooner we learn to respect and value all women, the safer this country can become for us all.

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