"I never wanted it, not even once." She didn't realize that under South African law it's illegal for a man to force his wife to have sex against her will.

"I didn't know," she said, after a long pause. "I always see myself as being in the wrong, because I am married to him.

"I don't love him. I am staying with him because he turned me into the wreck I am now. He took my virginity and made me into what I don't want to be."

***

In the first legal breakthrough in such cases, a 15-year-old girl pressed rape charges against a man who abducted her in March 2011. (It was the second time she had been abducted as a bride. The first time, when she was 13, she managed to run away.)

Her grandmother, Thulelene Mbhense, 60, said the girl was abducted on her way to school and held for weeks. She said a police supervisor brushed off the case, telling the family the girl must have been badly brought up and promiscuous.

Mbhense went to the village where the girl was being held, walked into the abductor's house and saw her granddaughter sitting with the man.

"I said, 'Let's go home,'" Mbhense said.

Last year, her abductor was convicted of rape and sentenced to six years in prison.

But as with Jabulile, the news that thwala followed by forced sex is a crime hasn't reached all the remote villages of KwaZulu-Natal.

Nonkululeko sometimes sees a new girl from another village brought to a man's house in her area. Cows are sent to the girl's family and she becomes a "wife," but without the usual wedding festivities.

No one states it openly, but everyone knows she has been abducted.

"The problem is as women, we don't want to talk about these things," Nonkululeko said. "It's a disgrace and as women we are not allowed to take disgraceful stuff out of our houses."

Nonkululeko bowed her head and wept silently.

"I like my name," she said. "But I don't see democracy."

robyn.dixon@latimes.com