Help Us Build a Culture of Consent

I have a vision of a South Africa where women feel safe in their communities. But can you truly imagine it?

I can’t. At Rape Crisis we see the most extreme result of discrimination against women every day. We see a woman after a man has raped her. In the immediate aftermath, or some months later, or after years and years of isolating silence. A silence built on the stigma of being a rape survivor. On the fear of being blamed for wearing a short skirt, or for being out after dark, for being drunk, or for changing her mind in the middle of a sexual encounter. In South Africa these myths are strong enough and the stigma is high enough to stand in the way of this vision.

We believe that the best way to challenge these myths and build a new set of beliefs based on mutual respect for consent is to support communities so that their capacity to address the problem of rape is strengthened. We believe that doing this with teenagers while they are still at school means they are more likely to challenge their own ways of thinking and take that challenge to their peers. Teenagers love to challenge the adult norm.

Monique is a Rape Crisis trained peer educator at Athlone High School. She completed a course that allowed her to support other learners at her school who needed help if they had been raped or sexually assaulted and were too afraid to tell an adult. It also taught her different ways of challenging rape culture among her peers and teaching them new ways of thinking, a new attitude and a new norm. To celebrate Youth Day 16 June 2017 she wrote a blog for us.

“Being a peer educator is a responsibility that I need to fulfil with the utmost seriousness. I am proud to be a peer educator,” she said.

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Obstacle course at the Peer Educators’ camp in Simonstown December 2016. Photograph by Alexa Sedge.

The course kicks off with a well-known exercise called the River of Life. It is designed to help participants tell the story of their lives in order to get to know one another at a deeper level and, in sharing this experience as a group, to develop a bond as a team.

“Fear immediately settled in me. Not because I had to speak in front of 21 strangers but because I had to show others who I really was. I had to show others all the things which made my childhood not so pleasant: all the things that I had locked away and although I wanted to throw away the key, I couldn’t. So there I was, revealing what I had kept inside for years – it was scary. I hated the fact that I had to be vulnerable. However, as each of my peers went up, I could see that we all had a dark past and that sunshine was scarce. What I learnt from that activity was that we need to scratch open our old wounds in order for them to heal properly. I realised that in order for me to help others, I had to help myself first.”

Empowerment starts within. Each facilitator on this course is a trained Rape Crisis volunteer. They go through a similar journey of confronting their fears as they learn to carry the huge responsibility of taking a group of young people on a journey fraught with intense emotions. But if we think of how damaging it is when an entire community believes even just one myth about women, about gender non-conforming people or about rape then we can see how serious it really is to make the attempt to challenge that myth.

“That activity made me realise something else as well: that’s what rape survivors have to go through when telling complete strangers about their traumatic experience, trusting others with what they would perhaps have kept to themselves.”

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Photograph by Alexa Sedge

“Throughout this programme, session by session, I learnt to trust others and I learnt of the stigma related to those being raped and how they are judged. I also learnt many things about HIV and AIDS and the stigma related to those who are positive. I learnt of our rights, our responsibilities and the rights of survivors.”

If you would like to support the journey of a peer educator like Monique please donate here or share this post with someone you think might want to contribute.

“Being part of the Rape Crisis family has been really great for me. We laugh together, cry together, and share a lot of memories. I want to thank the facilitators for doing a super job. Keep inspiring others and moulding new leaders. Although my course is complete, my journey as a peer educator has just begun.”

Please help us promote a culture of safety in our schools or sign up to get updates about this and other projects at Rape Crisis. Because challenging just one myth helps to challenge the culture that gave birth to it; the same culture that gives rise to discrimination and violence against women.

Thank you so much for being part of the process of building a culture of consent.

 

Empowering women to advocate for change in South Africa

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #BeBoldForChange. Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust has embodied this by launching our Rape Survivors’ Justice Campaign in 2016 to lobby for a significant change in how South Africa’s criminal justice system deals with sexual offences cases. The Rape Survivors’ Justice Campaign calls for access to sexual offences courts for all survivors and holds the government accountable for the national rollout of these courts, as was promised in 2013.

These Sexual Offences Courts are crucial in ensuring justice, because they focus on the needs of the survivor and aim to provide survivor-centred justice. These courts have specialised personnel, services and infrastructure. Some of the special features of these courts, are that the sexual offences courtrooms have separate entrances so that survivors do not have to walk past the defendant on their way to the courtroom. In addition, the survivor is able to testify from a separate room using CCTV. We believe that these courts will provide support to survivors throughout the court process and Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust provides court supporters at 5 courts in the Cape Town. These court supporters are trained to help survivors navigate the criminal justice system and offer much needed emotional support to survivors.

The specialised personnel and services that makes up a sexual offences court is centred around the survivor and we therefore refer to it as survivor-centred justice. These resources also include a friendly, welcoming environment that makes it easier for survivors who are children and/or mentally challenged to testify, because it reduces the secondary trauma that survivors experience as a result of entering the criminal justice system.

Pelisa who has been a court supporter at Parow Magistrates Court for six years knows the importance of Sexual Offences Courts. She first got involved with the court support programme because she recognized a “need” for change after hearing stories from community members in Khayelitsha, where she lives. Pelisa is a passionate supporter for survivors of sexual offences who has always helped others heal and become stronger. Her role in the court support programme has been to explain to the survivor why they are there, how they can handle the situation better and, most importantly, help them “learn to love again”. According to Pelisa, her favourite parts about being a court supporter is “when [she] sees a smile on the survivor’s face” and “when [she] talks to them and sees that they have become free and strong”.

Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust welcomed the promise by government to re-establish sexual offences courts. These services, personnel and infrastructure are vital to survivors seeking justice. Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust has continually been in the forefront of empowering women to advocate for change in South Africa. However, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. There are only 49 Sexual Offences Courts, and other services offered to survivors of sexual offences are still inadequate. A donation to Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust will go a long way to help us continue our work to hold government accountable for the rollout of sexual offences courts and to offer much needed support to survivors through our counselling and court support services.

Image above: Pelisa Nokoyo – Rape Crisis Court Supporter

Written by: Adam Kirschner – Communications Intern at Rape Crisis

If you would like to contribute to our programmes, Donate now and find out more here: http://rapecrisis.org.za/donate/

 

 

The difference that a care pack makes

By Shiralee Mc Donald

We would like to extend our gratitude to everyone who responded to our call for care packs for survivors accessing services at the Thuthuzela Care Centers over the holiday season. We felt truly touched and surprised that our ‘wish-list’ was fulfilled to the extent that it was. The first thing one is offered after any type of shock or trauma is a sweet drink yet this is the very last thing that survivors are able to do as it would destroy evidence. So having a snack and juice in the care packs was appreciated because the process can take a number of hours, sugar levels drop and survivors are hungry after the wait.

A donor remarked at the injustice of a child receiving this type of gift at Christmas compared to what her children were expecting. So true and it is very sad that so many children in our communities are sexually abused. What we can say for sure is that because of these care packs, children were able to hold on to something to distract themselves from the trauma of the examination. Counsellors at the Thuthuzela Care Centers spirits were lifted by the fact that there are community members who care that survivors would go home after their forensic examination with a sense of dignity that others thought about their needs during this time. We felt privileged to meet the women and men who felt strongly that they wanted to do something and would like to thank them for all their efforts.

Please remember that there is always a need for care packs and if you are interested in donating please contact Helette at the Observatory Office for more details: 021 447 1467

Wear your heart on your sleeve this Christmas

By Kathleen Dey

There could be no time more opportune than this for supporting an organisation like the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust with the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence against Women and the giving season coming together at the end of the year.

 

Our Vision and Mission

Rape Crisis has a vision of a South African Criminal Justice System that supports rape survivors in all of their interactions with it.  It is our mission to act as a bridge between the survivor and the system until such time as that vision becomes a reality.  Our counselling, training and advocacy programmes are designed to work in a coordinated fashion to ensure that we:

  • Increase the reporting of rape through support to survivors in communities
  • Increase the conviction rate of rapists through support to rape survivors at courts and health facilities and through law reform
  • Reducing secondary trauma to rape victims in the system through training with personnel within the system

We do this with the aim of reducing the number of rape incidents in South Africa.

 

Our Projects

Our projects include a Speak Out project for rape survivors wanting to speak publicly about their experiences as a way of challenging rapists, the Stop the Bus Campaign that takes our work out to rural areas during the 16 Days of Activism, the Birds and the Bees Youth Camp for peer educators working to raise awareness in schools and the Road to Justice Campaign that lobbies for Victim Empowerment Legislation to be enacted.

 

How you can support us

Like many South African NGOs Rape Crisis needs funds to sustain its valuable work.  We would like to appeal to companies and individuals to support us in one of the following ways:

  1. We are currently seeking bridging funds to make up a shortfall in this financial year of less than one month’s operating costs and any contribution would be welcome from potential donors as a form of social investment in our project work.  To donate contact Kathleen Dey, the Director, on kath@rapecrisis.org.za
  2. Individuals can contribute by joining the 1000 Hearts Campaign on our website at http://rapecrisis.org.za/support-us/1000-hearts/ and giving a heart as a gift this Christmas.  Each heart costs R100 a month, repeat payments can be set up online using a credit card and a heart in our online display will be named after the person of your choice.
  3. Rape Crisis is currently in the product development stage of our Safe Space Corporate Training and Consulting offering consultation on company sexual harassment policy development, training of managers in running disciplinary proceedings, training of HR departments in how to support victims or complainants, wellness days for employees and assistance to employees through individual counselling.  If your company is interested in any of these services then contact Shafieka Moos at shafieka@rapecrisis.org.za  for more information.  We’ll be launching our Safe Space Training and Consultation services early in 2012.

 

Stay in touch and get involved

To sign up for our quarterly newsletter email newsletter@rapecrisis.org.za and we will send you the latest news about our work, trends in the sector and ways you can get involved as a volunteer in our projects.  We offer training in counselling, court support, public speaking and workshop facilitation

 

to community based volunteers from all walks of life.  All of our direct services are offered by these skilled and dedicated volunteers.

 

Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go.

Mother Teresa