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Liza van Soelen

Liza van Soelen

By Liza van Soelen

Sitting in South Korea I reached for my phone to check the South African news and, with the rest of the country, I was stunned and sickened by the violent and brutal gang rape of Anene Booysen. But this is not the first time the media has been stunned by the extent of violence done against the women in South Africa. What about the mentally disabled girl who was gang raped and whose rapists filmed the attack? Or the girl who was raped and had her eye gouged out? What about the nameless and unreported women who are attacked every day in South Africa? We are stunned again by the news of Reeva Steenkamp.

Their stories pile up in a stack of brutality that leaves us tired not simply by the act itself but by the seemingly apathetic society who fails to respond, as Jen Thorpe pointed out in Never Tired Enough to Stop where she astutely summarized all the aspects that we are tired of.

I’ll be moving back to South Africa soon and felt that it was time that I took the action I preached to so many and found an organization that worked to help stop violence against women so I could volunteer or make a donation.

The first organization provided by the Google search engine was Rape Crisis in South Africa whose website I see you can link to via FeministSA. Further on the Google search results there was an article from some months back indicating that the funding for Rape Crisis had diminished to a point where it was running solely on volunteers until February 2013. As I was thinking of contacting Rape Crisis to hear if their lack of funding was still a reality, I came across an article this morning on the Mail and Guardian website SA: Rape Crisis, but no funds to fight which confirms that the organization is still struggling with funds.

It seems strange to me that in a country where at each new atrocity the media, the politicians and general public is outraged, that an organization designed to help the women who we are outraged for, should be financially struggling. On clicking on the Rape Crisis webpage I found that on their donations page they have an option to donate R100 a month to help support their organization. The goal is to have 1000 hearts sponsored. As of my count today, only 163 have been sponsored. A 2007 population statistic indicates 3,497,097 live in Cape Town. And only 163 people are prepared to maintain regular support of this organization.

It has just been Valentine’s Day, the day the greeting card industry asks us to show our love. Some of these greeting cards cost close to the R100 that could help a rape survivor heal.

I’d like to ask you to show your love too. I’d like you to show your love for the women who share your country with you. On this note, I encourage you to contact the organization in your city or community that helps women who have experienced violence or works to end violence and ask how you can help them. Give them your time or your money and give them your voice by encouraging your friends to help them too. Not simply for a day while the news broadcasters remind you of it, but on a regular basis to sustain and grow the fight to end violence against women. 

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