Campaign encourages survivors to speak out

Applications for the new Rape Crisis Activist Training course closes tomorrow, Friday May 19.

Rape Crisis has launched a new campaign to encourage rape survivors to speak out.

Rape Crisis says it’s estimated that 40% of South African women will be raped in their lifetime, but only 8.6% of rapists will be convicted.

According to Rape Crisis’s latest campaign, 68% of rape survivors know their rapists.

Director Kathleen Dey said they had noticed their statistics had been decreasing gradually and they had questioned whether that was because the situation had been improving.

But through their work in various communities they had found that the situation was much worse, but survivors were not reporting being raped because of the stigma attached to it, out of fear for the rapist, or a lack of faith in the justice system.

“It makes it harder to report if you know the rapist,” said Ms Dey.

The campaign uses a series of radio adverts featuring actual survivors telling their stories, informing women of Rape Crisis and its dedicated 24-hour crisis line.

This will also be supported byonline film and a print campaign. Ms Dey said the campaign had drawn a lot of support.

On the Rape Crisis’s Facebook page, Sandy Immelman wrote: “Brilliant — well done. I hope this raises awareness and funds for your very important work.” Chantel Cooper added: “Heard the ad this morning. Powerful… hope you get great exposure.”

Rape Crisis runs a 24/7 crisis line, offers face-to-face counselling and trains volunteers.

It also has a 24/7 service at Karl Bremer and Victoria hospitals and Heideveld day hospital, where counsellors help rape survivors.

There are also Rape Crisis staff at several courts to assist survivors during court cases.

Ms Dey said there was still a lot of stigma and gender stereotypes attached to rape and rape survivors.

Rape Crisis was established in 1976 and is the oldest organisation in South Africa supporting the recovery of survivors. “Our goal is to reduce the trauma experienced by rape survivors, including the secondary trauma they experience when reporting rape to officials.

“We aim to reduce the trauma experienced by survivors and encourage them to report rape. We support communities in challenging high rape rates and flaws in the criminal justice system,” said Ms Dey.

She said the organisation always needed support, be it volunteers or donations. Contact Rape Crisis at 021 447 9762 or info@rapecrisis.org.za