A 21-year-old woman who was raped by her aunt’s boyfriend two years ago was among a group of 30 young women who attended a self-realisation workshop this week.
The four-hour session was spearheaded by Ilitha Labantu in partnership with Brot für die Welt and The ELMA Philanthropies on Tuesday February 6 and Wednesday February 7 at the Langa UCCSA.
The workshop forms part of the organisation’s holistic training programmes, which seek to empower, develop and capacitate women to be self-sufficient and independent with the intention of breaking the cycle of intimate-partner violence and domestic violence.
In an interview with Vukani, the woman said she was home alone when her aunt’s boyfriend knocked at the house around 11pm while drunk.
Immediately after opening the door, she said the man made sexual advances while telling that he had been eyeing her for some time but was not brave enough to do anything.
She said while she was still contemplating calling for help he turned on the music and forced her into the bedroom.
“I tried to fight him off but I just couldn’t because he was way too strong. I was a virgin when I was raped and I lost my precious womanhood violently.
“For two years I never shared this to anyone and I would cry constantly over petty things because I had not healed.
“But such workshops are important because they form part of our healing journey and restore our lost dignity and make us see the world from a different perspective.
“I also believe that such workshops give us back our power and I can finally say to you that I have healed and the focus is now to rebuild my life,” she said.
Ilitha Labantu social worker, Anelisa Mlakalaka, said through these empowerment workshops they hope to build the self identity and self esteem of women so that they can be self-reliant and also use this platform to provide job-readiness training and other skills.
Ms Mlakalaka said they aimed to create a platform where women could freely express themselves and know that there are other young women who are facing similar challenges with them.
“We want these young women to take time to learn more about themselves so that they can be able to make informed decisions about their future.
“We want them to understand that they are worthy young women and must never let any challenges that they had faced prior to make them feel miserable and inferior.
“We want to rebuild their self-esteem and boost their confidence,” she said.
Emthonjeni organisation representative, Amanda Msuqhwana, said they had learnt that as young women they need to learn about themselves so that they could make wise choices.
But most importantly, she said they had learnt that their past challenges do not define who they are or how they should be portrayed but they have the power to take past experience and build from it.