BOBBY BEAR CARES
By: Sbongakonke Mbatha
Instant therapy and that 72 hour pill do not ease the pain of being raped.
Jackie Branfield decided to take action against sexual crimes. She founded Operation: Bobby bear. One day she had demanded to see the police docket of an alleged statement made by a four year old girl. The police officer handling the case replied that the child did not make the statement since she was too traumatized and did not know the right words to say. In frustration the officer himself had written, “I was raped,”- a completely insufficient statement for a court of law.
It was then clear to Branfield that the communication between an abused child and officer can determine the extent to which justice is done. The problem was communication. Jackie began a search for toys which would help with communication and care in these situations.
Based in Amanzimtoti, Bobby bear works on behalf of children who have been sexually abused to minimize their risk of HIV infection at the point of rescue. It ensures their health and well-being and brings their perpetrators to justice. Bobby bear uses a court-approved approach, using teddy bears for children to describe their abuse. This has helped thousands of children tell their stories.
According to Bobby bear’s Keep A Child Alive website, the organisation has touched the lives of more than 10 000 children including rape survivors, children who were sexually assaulted, abandoned and neglected. It has assisted over 2000 violence and abuse survivors to attend HIV classes.
Branfield advocates for justice and peace for the abused. In an article written by Tania Broughton in 2002, she describes Branfield as a maverick crusader who is sometimes scorned by those who consider themselves ‘more professional’ or even more spiritual. Branfield says she simply doesn’t have time to worry about what other people think of her. She tosses words like semen and vomit around with little though of her audience. She is a strong Christian woman.
“My job is to do what God asked me to do and that is to look after the widows and orphans. I couldn’t stand the attitude that HIV-AIDS was a disease of sin. We christians are the biggest NGO in the world yet most are doing nothing,” said Branfield.
According to a report by News24.com, every three minutes a child is raped. Rense.com says there are 961 child rapes a day in South Africa. Bobby bear continues to fight for the rights of all sexually abused children. Transforming then form victims to victors one bear at a time.