Rape can make you lose hope and dignity. It can make you feel hatred and anger, feel isolated and very sad. This is the situation for many young women in South Africa and too often they do not know where to turn to and what to do to change their situation and feelings. And should they turn to help and support, too often the services they get are further damaging instead of helping them.
A group of 15 young women from Cape Town and Johannesburg have produced a youth-friendly booklet that is beneficial for all women and girls. It’s the first of its kind and its message is clear. Within the context of our patriarchal society, where victims and survivors are often blamed for sexual violence and rape, young women are courageously stepping forward to make their voices heard. They are actively asserting their rights to live in a society free of violence and are challenging all of us to not only claim our rights – to become active citizens and share responsibility of making rights real. The message reverberates loudly, #Listen. Change begins with you. Improving after-rape care services.
This book is for people who want to understand what is needed to recover after rape. It provides information and direction for rape survivors. Young women share their experiences and the need to improve after-rape services. They share tips on what can be done to advocate for better services and how to be a successful change maker.
The idea for the booklet was born when young women were introduced to a comprehensive research into Thuthuzela Care Centres (TCC) – “It sucks/It’s a wonderful service”: Post-rape care and the micro-politics of institutions, authored by Lisa Vetten and published by Shukumisa. When the research was launched in 2015, it revealed that many of the young women did not know what a TCC was and where to find it.
The booklet “#Listen. Change begins with you. Improving after-rape care services”, has made the TCC research more accessible for young women. It includes a simplified version of the research. It explains about the counselling services NGOs provide at the TCCs and provides recommendations to government, donors and NGOs on how to improve TCC counselling care.
This publication is part of the Young Urban Women (YUW) programme implemented by ActionAid South Africa (AASA) and its partners, Afrika Tikkun in Johannesburg and the Wellness Foundation in Cape Town as well as the Shukumisa Campaign.
The development and production of the booklet was highly participatory and included a workshop that brought the voices of Young Urban Women to the centre. They worked with the Shukumisa coordinator, an editor, a graphic designer and a photographer. They were directly involved in the reviewing and editing of the booklet, as well as in the decision-making about the colour scheme and the photographs.
Young women are distributing the booklet in their communities – Diepsloot, Alexandra, Orange Farm, Braamfontein, Khayelitsha, Mitchell’s Plain, Delft, Langa and Gugulethu.
One of the YUW said, “the book is important to me and other young women because in a way it will let other young women come forward and speak about their rape experiences thus it will act as their road to a healing journey and also it educates other young women basically.”
At the workshop young women discussed the need to restore what has been broken from within and the need to get a sense of belonging and self-belief back and the need to learn to trust again. This booklet can accompany rape survivors on that journey.
The booklet raises awareness around the dire need for improved post-rape care. South Africa’s high levels of rape are not being matched by adequate levels of psycho-social care. Not enough is being done to support rape survivors and funding for a range of psycho-social support services is critical. However, global funding cuts will see the number of NGOs providing support at TCCs significantly reduced.
Contacts for media enquiries:
Cell. 078 988 6002
Cell. 079 957 9843
Aniela Batschari, Coordinator
Tel. 021 447 1467
Cell. 082 546 4261
Malibuswe Miya, Women’s Rights Programme
Tel. 011 731 4570
The Shukumisa Campaign
The Shukumisa Campaign was launched in 2008 by members of the National Working Group on Sexual Offences (NWGSO). The NWGSO was originally formed in 2004 to advocate around the proposed Sexual Offences Bill. When the Criminal Law [Sexual Offences and Related Matters] Amendment Act no. 32 of 2007 (Sexual Offences Act) was passed in late 2007, the NWGSO reformulated itself as the Shukumisa Campaign.
Shukumisa members include organisations that offer legal advice or counselling services as well as research institutions. Our members work with adults, children, people with disabilities, sex workers and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community, intersex and queer community (LGBTIQ).
We work together to make sure that:
•we have strong laws and policies in place for sexual offences
•we have a strong criminal justice system that supports rape survivors
•we have a strong non-profit sector of organisations working against sexual violence.
ActionAid South Africa
ActionAid South Africa (AASA) is part of ActionAid International, an anti-poverty agency working with people living in poverty in over 40 countries. Their focus is on women’s and girls’ rights; land and food right; children and education; communities affected by mining; and international advocacy. ActionAid has a vision of a world without poverty and injustice in which every person enjoys their right to a life of dignity.
The Young Urban Women (YUW) programme follow one of ActionAid’s five goals: “Ensure that women and girls can break the cycle of poverty and violence, build economic alternatives and claim control over their bodies”.