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Laws set out at Home Affairs expose women!

In 2011 I accompanied a student, a young girl I was in class with to Home Affairs Offices. She had gone there to apply for a study permit or temporary citizenship, initially she was from Swaziland and was staying with her uncle who was working in South Africa. We got to the offices, enquired and we were directed where to go. When we got to the particular desk, her enquiry was met with a definite No, the requirements were to stringent for her, and we were told that, other conditions that could guarantee a person citizenship where either marriage to a local or having a child with a local person and that automatically qualifies one to have a chance to apply for citizenship as a South African.

I looked around the large holding room of Home Affairs Offices, and I met a large number of women with babies in their arms. I was surpised, we then left and went our separate ways. I told this to one of my friends and her response was, come to the SASSA offices on pay day, to see the queues of young girls who are there to collect child support Grant and you will be amazed. She said to me, "it ain't nothing what you saw at home affairs, wait till you get to the Pay Points." And she also told me not ot go to Absa Bank if I have an account there, she said I should only go after the 4th in the month.

In truth, there are so many young girls who have children with foreign men and are left holding fatherless babies in their arms. Once the father get's an ID document, most vanish into thin air in your own Country, intraceable even for child maintanance and then these girls end up in queues for State Subsdised Child Grants, they are even encouraged to go and register for these grants. Which make me ask myself, "how stupid are these girls, why are they throwing their lives away, when there are so many opportunities out there, waiting for them to come and grab them and put them to good use?"

It is these rules or laws that we need to step up the fight against and raise our voices against. They are causing exploitation against women and girls. Some women have turned their childrens lives miserable, by being married to foreigners and exposing their children to emotional abuse and neglect and they themselves end up being victims. So many young women struggle to get married, as when they get to Home Affairs, some find that they have been fraudulently been married off to complete strangers. Some women and young girls do this willingly, for promises of regular monthly payment for life, that fizzles of a few months down the line and the donor.....vanished.

Let's work hard in building self esteem in women and young girls alike, not to sell their souls nor compromise thwir freedom, future and education by being duped by so called "Love" and promises of a "better" life. Nothing comes for free, earn your own money, advance your own future, girls should get out there and be educated and employed, after that the sky is the limit.

Angry and concerned


This story was written for World Pulse’s Girls Transform the World Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring girls greater access to education which will transform their lives, their families, and communities. The Girls Transform Campaign elicits insightful content from young women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as women, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
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Lea's picture

Thank you for your story,

Thank you for your story, Loretta. It is unfortunate that women and young girls are married off in order to get a better life and the promise of true love. I agree that they need to be educated and to develop confidence in themselves and in their abilty to be successful without having to rely on another person.


loretta's picture

True Lea.

I wish they could see things that way, but in most cases people always seek the easy way out.

This is what we here at World Pulse have to work on to open their eyes.

Thank you for your response. God bless you.


A successful woman is one who can build a firm foundation with the bricks others throw at her. Author Unkown.

Hi Loretta,
I felt very sad for the young woman who wanted temporary citizenship. There should be a clear path for a woman who wants to study and become a productive member of South African society.To tell a woman that in order to have a chance to apply for citizenship, she must either marry a local or bear him a child is a travesty. You have also implied in your subsequent example that men can also marry locals as a way of obtaining ID papers. Then, as you have pointed out, the result is too many abandoned women and children. I agree that working on self esteem and encouraging financial independence are certainly needed!
Warm wishes,

loretta's picture

My point exactly!

I know, there is nothing we can do to stop people to have children with foreigners in our Country, love knows no boundaries. But if that happens in order for one to qualify for citizenship, I personally find it to be exploitation.

I wish there could be a way to convince women in South Africa to be on the look out. I just hope that, in some way they will be alert and realise that, what's happening is exploiting them and refrain from having children out of wedlock and being left holding babies from fathers whom they know nothing about.

The sad thing, conditions that are attached to temporary citizenship eventually leads people to either abandon their hopes of getting better education in South Africa or their prospects of a better life.

Indeed a lot of work needs to be done on their self esteem and financial independence, other wise we are in trouble.

Thanks for your comment.


A successful woman is one who can build a firm foundation with the bricks others throw at her. Author Unkown.

Anais Tuepker's picture

a difficult challenge

Dear Loretta,

Your story goes to the heart of some difficult issues, and I like your passion in confronting them. As you point out, women can be exploited in many ways by laws which, in theory, restrict men just as much, but which in reality, thanks to power imbalances and the biology of who bears children, tend to have a much more negative impact on women.

You say that the laws need to be changed: how? I would love to know what you think. My own solution would tend to be towards making it easier for people to cross borders without having to resort to such desperate measures. However when I lived in South Africa for a short time about fifteen years ago, there was a lot of resistance to this, and I think that's still the case.

Thanks for sharing your passion - we can all work to help girls and young women appreciate how much they are really worth!

very best wishes,

loretta's picture

You are so right.

Yes, it's true that these laws should be accommodating to those who want to cross borders, but it shouldn't be to the exploitation of others. Here are my suggestions:
1. People applying for temporary residence, should state fully the time and duration they intend to stay in the Country, and should specify the reason's why they want to be in the Country. They should be given time frames when to report to Home Affairs offices during their stay in the Country and also declare heir activities, have their finger prints taken, on a regular basis.(I know this may sound unfair, but given the rate of crime inside the Country, these might be considered as protective measures, for both the foreigner and Country.)
2. Study permits should be granted to prospective students, who have secured admission to an Institute of Learning and should also be subjected to protective measures.
3. Work permits should also be granted on the basis of having secured a job offer already in the Country and also, protective measures should apply.

I am not against people who apply for permanent residence, but they shouldn't get it on the basis of inconveniencing others. Imagen being left holding a baby whose father is absent or married to an absent husband an become a grass widow. Let us all respect each others freedom and not do things that only become of personal gain to others.

If marriage and the birth of a child happens, it has to be of mutual consent and not because of personal gain. A large chunk of the budget goes to Child Grant and it could be channeled to more beneficial purposes, e.g increasing orphan grants and the time they get to spend in Orphanages instead of being let off at 18yrs, with nowhere to go and ending up on the streets and being subjected to all sorts of criminal activities and prostitution or end up as drug mules.

I hope you get to understand my point and share some ideas and views.


A successful woman is one who can build a firm foundation with the bricks others throw at her. Author Unkown.

Anais Tuepker's picture

good starting points

Hi Loretta,

Thanks for such a detailed and thoughtful reply. I think those are some good points for starting the discussion. I also feel that if there were more reasonable policies allowing people entry for work or study, especially when they have already identified and obtained opportunities to do so, would definitely help in avoiding the kinds of exploitative situations that are good for no one.

Here in the United States, we are also in the midst of ongoing (never-ending?) debates about immigration policy. If you look out for them, there are frequent stories of mothers being deported while their children are allowed to stay in the United States (because, being born here, the children are citizens). Sometimes these women were escaping violence or abuse in their home countries, and so when they are forced to return they do not wish to risk their children being exposed to violence. They thus face a really unbearable choice: keep your child with you in danger, or leave them with your spouse/partner in the US with no guarantee you will ever see your child again, or - if no longer in such a relationship - potentially lose them (to foster care) but keep them in the US? This is just one more facet of the gendered experience of migration to consider: the fact that women often may leave their homes not just for positive opportunity but to escape oppression. There are few legal options right now for women in this situation. It is because of this kind of situation that I wish US migration policy paid more attention to family unity, and less to employment. However from what I know of the situation (and I did study it, once upon a time) South Africa gives far fewer opportunities to skilled workers from other countries, out of concern for local unemployment, and so I think your point about focusing on this area is well taken.

Just more food for thought. Thanks for stimulating my thinking on this. I look forward to reading more posts of yours. By the way I see in your profile that you are a mother yourself, so let me wish you Happy Mother's Day (it is our holiday this weekend)!

keep well,

loretta's picture

I hope so.

Happy Mother's Day to you too.

I am disappointed that in the US you people don't have a Refugee Programme or maybe you forgot to mention it Anais. In South Africa we have that, but very few people enrol in it, because mostly are those that come from Countries where their lives were in danger.

And of late, it is being abused. So those who enrol into the programme are well looked after and are given work permits, for those who have qualifications and the children are placed in Schools. There is one that is run by the Priests of my Parish, The Jesuit Refugee Society, we often donate clothes to them.

The real problem arises mainly from those who enter the Country illegally and want to stay anywhere they want and get to exploit these laws I have mentioned. You said you were in South Africa 15yrs ago, I am sure if you were to come back today, you'll be shocked of the state the CBD (Johannesburg) is in. Businesses have moved away and those that stayed behind are trying to improve the sorrounding areas and the battle is quite slow.

Thanks for your encouragement, let's keep sharing ideas on how we can make things better, especially for the sake of women and children. My heart really breaks for the children who are left behind, especially in foster care, now that is really sad and a painful decision for a mother to make.

You know, some come to South Africa only to make means to get citizenship and then move on to the States or Europe, then again children and grass widows are left behind never to see the father or husband again.

Have a great weekend Anais, God bless you.


A successful woman is one who can build a firm foundation with the bricks others throw at her. Author Unkown.

Anais Tuepker's picture

yes we do have programs

Hi Loretta,

Yes, the US does have refugee resettlement programs, but for women like those I was talking about, it is very hard to get refugee status, as refugee protection more easily gets given to people who are fleeing political persecution. The idea of women as a persecuted group is an argument that is not often successful legally, although I believe there have been successful cases.

Certainly there is abuse like you mention - it is a desperate world. I try to be empathetic, understand what drives such desperation, and look for solutions that will address the problem at its root.

I knew people working with Jesuit Refugee Services in Pretoria (though I lived in Jo'burg) and I'm glad to hear they are still helping the community.

wishing you a beautiful weekend,

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