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.

 

Help fight violence against women by giving your Mandela Day minutes to rape survivors

Last year was great, let’s make this year even better!

Rape Crisis counsellors offer 24 hour support to rape survivors undergoing a forensic examination in the hours immediately after rape. They treat each case with the utmost seriousness. They give clear information about what will happen next. They allow the rape survivor to make her or his own decisions and then support those decisions and offer emotional support throughout the process. They make sure the person has access to justice and knows what is required of them step by step throughout the journey.

Medical personnel offer treatment to prevent HIV infection, to prevent other sexually transmitted infections and in the case of women, to prevent pregnancy. A detective from a specialist unit takes a full statement.

This is a difficult ordeal to go through immediately after rape. You can imagine how desperate survivors are to have a shower as soon as all these procedures have been completed. That’s why we give each one of them a care pack containing toiletries, a change of underwear and other personal items.  These items are contained in a beautiful bag sewn by rape survivors in our sewing project. As one rape survivor said: “I felt so comforted by the toiletries and I am amazed that someone took the time to create such a beautiful bag just for me.”

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On Saturday 15 July we need your help to put these care packs together.  The contents of the packs are all ready and the bags we pack them into have been hand made by our Change a Life sewing project, a group of rape survivors striving for economic empowerment.  We need your help to pack 1 300 bags for women, men, girls and boys. What better way could there be to celebrate the spirit of Mandela Day than by giving your 67 minutes to support rape survivors?

On the day a rape survivor will be telling her story, our director, Kathleen Dey will be talking about the work of Rape Crisis and there’ll be a crafting space where you can make something special to put inside a care pack. Some people make cards while others knit or crochet small hearts to go into the packs.

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Please will you diarise now:

Date:  Saturday 15 July 2017
Time:  10.00am to 15.00pm
Venue:  Rosebank Methodist Church Hall, 2 Chapel Road, Rosebank
(Click here for map to venue) 

Please sign up by clicking here now to let us know that you will be joining us on the day.

Tickets will be sold at the door for R67 each. If you can’t make it, you could sponsor a care pack instead, by clicking here now. Every gesture of support counts in surviving rape. Each care pack costs us R120 to make up. Please use the reference #RCMandelaDay.

Refreshments will be on sale over the course of the day. Please click here if you have a food stall and would like to register to be a vendor on the day or phone Zeenat Hendricks on 021 447 1467.

Thank you for making Mandela Day meaningful by helping to fight violence against women.

Come to an event in support of Rape Crisis

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