HOPE FOR RAPE SURVIVORS
By: Lindokuhle Simelane
Rape survivors from communities around Mariannhill no longer have to travel too far to get help as the Jes Foord Foundation opened a centralised rape and trauma crisis centre, in the area, for victims yesterday.
The founder who is a rape victim, Jes Foord said after receiving support from family, friends and community, she thought of the victims who had no one to walk the whole process with them
“From examination to actually getting court to face the rapists, one needs support to feel safe,” she said.
However, Jes said she was looking forward to the day the centre would close its doors, not because it had problems “but because there would be no rape victims.”
Jes said if people ran out of South Africa because they felt it was unsafe, they would have surrendered their country to criminals.
“We all need to stay and fight. If we say we run away from South Africa, we would be telling the criminals that they have won.”
The facility has a reception, a colourfully-designed child therapy rooms, boardroom and two fully-furnished consulting rooms.
The child therapy facility’s interior is colourfully designed “to put children at ease when they come for counselling and therapy.” She said when they designed the facility; they had children in their minds.
“It’s designed to make children feel safe once they arrive,” she said.
Trish said they had invited other organizations and individuals to join them.
“We want each room to have a stationed person who will be available all the time the centre is open,” she said.
Apart from rape and trauma counselling, project coordinator Trish Buchanan said they also opened the centre to community organizations whose mission was to rebuild “broken communities.”
“Our boardroom is open to people from other community organizations to have workshops and life skills trainings. We are simply saying, we have the facility, come and offer your services, that will help restore our communities,” she said.
Mariannhill Coordinating Committee director Jenny Boyce-Hlongwa, who is involved in helping rape survivors, said the centre would speed up the process of helping victims.
“We are always out of sort of who to refer rape victims to because everything is in Durban and there was no nearby facility,” she said.
She said there was an incident when a child at school told a teacher she had been raped. During the process of looking for help, the child had changed her mind and no longer wanted to testify.
“That’s because it’s a long process but now it would be easy and not even a need for a teacher to involve me as a community member but take a child directly to this centre to get help,” she said.
She said the facility would be accessible to residents of; Mariannridge, Luganda, St Wendolins, Nazareth, Mpola, Tshelimnyama, Thornwood, Dassenhoek, KwaNdengezi and surrounding informal settlements.
“In these areas, there is a mass of poor people who cannot afford counseling services when they or their family members have been raped,” she said.
From the centre, a police station is about three minutes away.
In 2008, Jes was gang-raped. She and her father, Tim, went to Shongweni Dam to walk their dogs where they were surprised by four men who beat and tied Tim up before forcing him to watch the brutal gang rape of his daughter. The four perpetrators were sentenced to life imprisonment.