#StrongerTogether: YOU launches platform for rape and domestic violence survivors to share their stories
Uyinene Mrwetyana. Janika Mallo. Lynette Volschenk. Leighandre Jagels. Jesse Hess.
Their names have become engrained in our minds in recent weeks. Their stories are painful to read, difficult to process and impossible to understand.
Janika’s half-naked body was found in her grandmother’s backyard. She was raped, bashed with a concrete block over her head and left to bleed to death. She was just 14.
Lynette was murdered in her flat, allegedly by a fellow dweller. Her body was sawed into pieces and dumped in black bags.
Leighandre was shot in cold blood by her estranged police officer boyfriend.
Jesse was murdered in the home she shared with her 85-year-old grandfather. Police suspect she was raped.
As news of each case broke, South Africans became increasingly horrified and Uyinene’s death seemed to be the final straw.
The 19-year-old University of Cape Town student was raped and bludgeoned to death with a scale in a Post Office, allegedly by an employee.
South Africans took to social media to express their anger and recount how they have been abused and thousands marched to protest against the senseless violence. The hashtags #AmINext, #ShutSADown and #EnoughIsEnough trended in record-breaking numbers on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, after days of demonstration, finally committed to reviewing the laws on sexual offenses to prioritise the needs of survivors.
He promised government would make the National Register of Sexual Offenders public. He also said crimes against women and children would result in harsher sentences and that the state would oppose bail for the perpetrators of violence against women and children and that they’ll be imprisoned for life.
But much more needs to be done on the ground and we want to do our part too. This week YOU along with sister titles DRUM and Move! launches an ongoing campaign called #strongertogether.
We will tell the moving stories of rape and domestic violence survivors in our magazine, on our website and social platforms, as well as highlight the work of those working to help support women in need.
We’ll seek answers to the questions so many women silently grapple with like how to deal with a perpetrator in your home, how to identify a potential abuser and where to go if the police can’t help you.
We’ll also look at ways to raise boys to respect women and what you, as an individual, can do to make a difference in the fight against this scourge, among other things.
And in the weeks and months to come, we’re going to showcase the organisations and individuals who are making a difference in the war against violence against women and children. They often work tirelessly and with very little financial backing and could use all the help they can get.
If you know of anyone we should be featuring on our platforms, send their details and a bit about them to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line #strongertogether. (drum: email@example.com; move: firstname.lastname@example.org).