Peer Educator Graduation: Challenging Social Norms to Prevent Sexual Violence

To effectively combat sexual violence, it is not enough to treat its symptoms: we must also work to prevent it by addressing root causes.

This is the drive behind the Rape Crisis Birds and Bees Peer Educator initiative, run in collaboration with schools that have been identified as at high risk for sexual violence. Students who enter the programme graduate aware of the myths and social norms that enable sexual violence; able to support survivors and refer them to Rape Crisis services; and committed to raising awareness amongst their peers.

The most recent Peer Educator graduation ceremony, at Joe Slovo Engineering High School in Khayelitsha, was a proud moment for all the learners, educators and Rape Crisis staff involved.

The most recent Peer Educator graduation ceremony, at Joe Slovo Engineering High School in Khayelitsha, was a proud moment for all the learners, educators and Rape Crisis staff involved.

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Peer Educators learn to challenge the stigma and misconceptions around rape through this programme, and go on to become leaders and role models within not only their schools, but their communities.

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Thandile, who spoke on behalf of the class during the ceremony, says he will spread the Rape Crisis message all over the school. “It was a good experience that gave me many ideas. I can make sure someone doesn’t feel lonely, I can make them feel loved and happy.”

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“Often learners who join this programme reveal that they are rape survivors themselves and never told anyone as they feared judgement or labeling. They have now gained confidence as they now know their right and how to claim them” says Rape Crisis Training and Development Co-ordinator Kholeka Booi

 

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“This Rape Crisis programme is so valuable,” reflected Ms Mbanga, an educator at Joe Slovo, “So many people have been raped but don’t know what to do. If Rape Crisis keeps training young learners, they can help the whole community”.

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Happily clutching her certificate and black Peer Educator t-shirt, Amanda says she enjoyed the whole process. “It was fun, and I can use all the information I learned to help other people. If I see someone do something wrong, I can tell them that it’s wrong and stop them”.

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“They have been so dedicated and committed” Ms Mbanga can attest, “and I have seen a great change in each of them. They have gained skills, maturity and a spirit of teamwork.”

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This new generation of Peer Educators will be able to open a dialogue with their friends, classmates and families that represents a more informed approach to a difficult subject.

The Rape Crisis Birds and Bees project is supported by the MATCH International Women’s Fund and Oxfam Australia

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Call to Action: Just how to give beyond your 67 minutes

We at Rape Crisis want to challenge you to continue that journey past Mandela Day, past those 67 minutes that you gave of yourself.

We at Rape Crisis want to challenge you to continue that journey past Mandela Day, past those 67 minutes that you gave of yourself.

“Volunteer, donate, cement yourself to a cause,” they say. For those inept at charitable deeds, this proposal may seem a daunting task. Surely this is easier said than done. But is it, really? The reality is, the spirit of giving doesn’t have to be expressed in a particular grandiose gesture. No need to worry; no one is expecting you to jump on your noble horse and save the world, or hand over all of your hard-earned money. We are simply asking you to engage in the realm of humanity; to open your heart to the essence of connecting with the world around you, in a philanthropic way.

I can see how it would be easy to use Mandela Day as a checkmark for your civic duty of the year. However, we at Rape Crisis want to challenge you to continue that journey past Mandela Day, past those 67 minutes that you gave of yourself. As someone who’s newer to the humanitarian sector, I want to provide you with guidance for traversing from your fleeting charitable moment to an ongoing commitment.

My first piece of advice: understand that you’re not going to save the world. Yes, I said you’re not going to save the world. I met a number of people who came into philanthropic causes with the highest of expectations, only to be met with disappointment, ultimately leading to their desertion. Those of us working in the social sector know to be realistic, we are not going to change the world, but we do aim to make a difference, no matter the extent.

Perhaps quite the opposite, you feel there’s no way you can make a difference. I once thought this myself. The simple truth is, you can. Whether you impact one person or a whole group of people, the point is that you had an impact. In a time when people are truly suffering, a little gesture to you may mean the world to them.

Now, you may be wondering just how to answer this call to action. First, find a cause that you are passionate about and find an organization that advocates for this issue. Does the organization carry a message and a mission that you can support? If the answer is yes, the next step is to contact them, sign-up to their mailing list and inquire how you can aid their efforts. The possibilities are endless: volunteering for an event, making consistent donations, offering your unique skills or expertise on a Board of Trustees or even as a staff member, amplifying advocacy messages through social media posts and showcasing the work that they do. The main objective is to start a relationship with the organization. Let them know you want to help and a foundation will be formed.

Pictured on the right, I myself have devoted my unique skills of writing, photographing and filming to non-profits and NGO’s that encapsulate my same set of passions and beliefs.

Pictured on the right, I myself have devoted my unique skills of writing, photographing and filming to non-profits and NGO’s that encapsulate my same set of passions and beliefs.

It really can be that easy. The hardest part is often taking that first step, crossing over the threshold between appeasing your conscience and becoming involved in addressing the problems that are afflicting your community. Be prepared to be moved—to be physically and emotionally moved. Those of us who’ve ended up in this profession haven’t just fallen here by grace. Most of us can attest that we were compelled to do this work. I truly believe that empathy and compassion are instilled in each one of us; the trick is to tap into that space in your heart. If you truly want to honor Madiba’s humanitarian legacy, allow yourself to connect with the world outside of your own, for more than just 67 minutes a year.

If you would like to find out how to get involved in the work of Rape Crisis, visit our website  and fill out our volunteer form.

Brittany Broderick

A graduate from the Indiana University School of Journalism, Brittany holds a degree in Photojournalism and Filmography, with a minor in Women’s Studies. When she’s not traveling abroad for work, Brittany resides in Indianapolis where, in addition to freelance jobs, she devotes much of her time to humanitarian causes, such as being a motivational speaker and advocate for sexual violence awareness. Her ultimate goal is to combine her creative reporting skills with women’s advocacy work abroad. She’s determined to pursue ventures that provide women with platforms that encourage and empower them to stand up and share their stories.

67 minutes of activity do not create sustainable change

The superficiality of the 67 minutes of charity that people offer one day a year on Mandela Day and how far this is from Mandela’s legacy of changing attitudes and addressing inequality in our country were a hot topic for media commentators last year. Will their message be heeded in 2015?

Critics protested that the privileged classes, politicians and corporations “tick a box” for 67 minutes, then ignore the country’s structural inequalities for the rest of the year. They argued that these random handouts do not empower communities in the long run or drive lasting change at an organisational level but merely serve to appease the conscience.

Mandela’s legacy has not survived. There is vast inequality between black and white, rich and poor, the well-educated and the poorly educated, between men and women. 67 minutes do not address the structural causes of inequality that he fought against. We as citizens have become immune to these inequalities yet they are the country’s biggest problem.

In the face of this the general feeling is that Mandela Day is a media-driven, “feel good” day of sentimentality. Politicians use the day as a photo opportunity and a moment to be seen as one of “the people”. Celebrities use it for public relations and image building as they have fun while doing minimal work. The middle class lack awareness of the depth of the real issues and are blind to their own privilege so 67 minutes serves to ease their consciences. Mandela Day becomes an exercise in marketing and commercialism for business and the media. In the end it becomes a distraction from the larger, structural issues.

That being said the idea that citizens should “make every day a Mandela Day” is not an easy one to swallow. Making something part of the everyday runs the danger of increasing the very immunity and detachment with regard to the poor and those that suffer that we are trying to address.

This year the Nelson Mandela Foundation issued an appeal that called on people to remember “that special day of the year when we take the focus off the self and pledge our help to those around us to honour Madiba’s humanitarian legacy. Not as a gesture of charity, but as a call to justice.” The appeal made no distinction between small, individual acts and bigger gestures as long as the focus was on those in need of help.

Perhaps the answer lies in this: that the reason for our detachment is that average citizens don’t treat the poor as human, don’t engage, don’t get too close.

For these citizens here is a message: let Mandela Day be the start of your journey to get to know the people you want to help. Let it become an entry point to your longer term involvement with an organisation that works with people and communities in need and that works to bring about structural change. Everyone can pitch in to help including adults, youth and children. This generation might have failed but the next generation has the chance to make a difference if we show them how.

Mandela’s activism or activism as a daily activity on an organisational level against injustices is the province of South Africa’s vibrant social profit sector. There are many examples organisations that campaign and work for change all year round. To make your goodwill extend past July 18th and into everyday life support an organisation that does just that and use your 67 minutes on Mandela Day to join an ongoing campaign, to begin making consistent donations, to offer your expertise on a Board of Trustees or to sign up as a volunteer.

Long time Rape Crisis supporter, Helen Moffett, delivering toys for child care packs.

Long time Rape Crisis supporter, Helen Moffett, delivering toys for child care packs.

This year the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust will be packing care packs for rape survivors who undergo forensic examinations at a forensic unit to allow them to wash and change into clean underwear after all evidence of the rape has been collected for analysis as part of the police investigation of the crime and to be used as evidence in a court case against the rapist. You can spend your 67 minutes with an incredible group of people and you are allowed to have fun. You will also hear the testimony of a rape survivor and how she triumphed and learn more about the work we do to support rape survivors on the road to justice. Visit www.rapecrisis.org.za to sign up to our event, or to find out more about getting involved.

Kathleen Dey
Director of the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust

Mandela Day Care Pack Drive

The spirit of giving and helping others is epitomised in Mandela Day (Saturday, 18 July), when scores of South Africans come together and dedicate a portion of their day to doing good and the legacy of Nelson Mandela.

This year, Rape Crisis has set aside an interesting and exciting project for our 67 minutes. Year after year, women and men face the harrowing experience of surviving sexual assault and rape with very little to no support. The process of going through to the police station and undergoing the process of forensic examination can leave many women feeling violated from the start. Thus, in the spirit of giving back and supporting rape survivors with resources to regain their dignity, the organisation has put together a care pack drive where volunteers and allies can assemble care packs for rape survivors.

In an effort to be provide adequate support, please note that brand new donations are required and will be the only donations accepted.

The care packs consist of the following:

  • Underwear (all shapes and sizes for men/women/children)
  • Sanitary pads (no tampons)
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Nappies

The reality of this care pack drive is mobilising our volunteers while simultaneously ensuring that rape survivors are able to experience kindness in the simplest of forms – like being able to put on a fresh pair of underwear or wash their hair. In the spirit of Mandela Day where South Africans pledge to give back 67 minutes of their time (representing the number of years Madiba spent in jail fighting for revolution and freedom) to pay it forward and give, we urge others to come and participate in our drive.

Not only that, volunteers are able to meet with like-minded individuals and get to know the people behind Rape Crisis as well making connection with some new faces.

Find all the details and sign up here. 

Looking for the when and where?

Venue: Mowbray Town Hall | Main Road | Mowbray

Time: 10am – 3pm

Date: Saturday, 18 July 2015.

We hope to see you there!

Dr Genine Josias in the examination room at one of the Thuthuzela Care Centres

Dr Genine Josias in the examination room at one of the Thuthuzela Care Centres