While encouragement, motivation and raising awareness were essential in the fight against gender-based violence, there was no way that others could truly understand the experience of the victims of these crimes.
So said Nobesuthu Toti, who shared her story of being raped – and how she was treated afterwards.
“Healing takes years,” she told those who attended a gathering at the Edith Stephens Nature Reserve in Manenberg last Thursday.
“It takes years to get out the hatred. Once you get raped even the odour of the rapist stays with you for long. It does not go away that easily.”
At the event, organised by Nyanga police, Nyanga CPF, Cesvi Foundation, Gift of the Givers, and the Reverend MS Lugongolo Foundation, women from Philippi, Crossroads and Nyanga spoke about their experiences of hatred, assault, harassment, mockery and belittlement after having becoming victims of gender-based violence.
The theme of the event was My Sister’s Keeper.
Ms Toti said often victims of gender-based violence became outcasts in their communities – and for her it had become near impossible to walk around Crossroads because when she did, she was further victimised and judged.
Derogatory comments from the community, she said, could be incredibly hurtful and destructive.
“Rape victims need love. We become outcasts in the community for no reason.
“We have dreams but it is difficult to fulfil them for we are sometimes scared of the judgement shown to us by the community members. I am a qualified teacher by profession but I could not do that. But I still have dreams,” she said.
Guest speaker, Parliamentary Chief Whip, Pemmy Majodini encouraged victims to continue reporting the crimes to the police.
Defending SAPS against those who accuse them of not doing their jobs, she thanked the police for work they were doing to apprehend the perpetrators of crimes against women and children.
Ms Majodini reminded victims that if they did not report such crimes, police had no way of knowing happening in their bedrooms – because that’s where the abuse starts.
But, she added, the community also has a vital role to play in ending gender-based violence. “It is high time that our community stops shielding perpetrators,” said Ms Majodini who also urged women not to blame themselves if they were abused and commended men’s organisations which were taking a stand against women and child abuse.
During the event, each of the women received food parcels and pamper packs from the Gift of the Givers.
The foundation’s co-ordinator, Ali Sablay said as crime against women continued to increase, his organisation would continue to work relentlessly to support to the victims.
Mr Sablay added that it was important not only for victims to get educated about gender-based violence, but the perpetrators too.
“We have seen how rampant crime is against women. I think we need to give not only support but education to them (and) that includes the perpetrators,” he said.
“But as an organisation we want to see the crimes stopped.”
Cesvi programme manager Thembani Dyule applauded the collaboration they have with the Nyanga police and other stakeholders, and said the event had lived up to its aim of motivating survivors of gender-based violence and encouraging the community to report such crimes.
Nyanga police said they were happy to have stakeholders which were always supportive and who worked with them.