Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust, a non-profit organisation which deals with adult rape, turns 40 this year, and, as a gift to themselves, they have been revamping their Athlone centre in Klipfontein Road.
Although the renovations are not yet complete, the centre is already boasting new furniture with scatter cushions, a lick of paint, new blinds and window covers and a counselling room that has been completely transformed.
Kathleen Dey, the director of Rape Crisis, said they recently got a team of professionals on board to help with the renovations. “We got a designer, Elize Gazeau, on board. Everyone who has been assisting with the revamp are all women and all care about our cause. They did it free of charge.
“The colour scheme comes from our branding and logo. It’s not all matching because we want people to feel at home. We want it to be comfortable and luxurious, and Elize has created a real feel of comfort. Before, it was a mishmash of everything. I can’t tell you what it was like before. But over the years, we’ve been fixing it up,” said Ms Dey.
The renovations were largely funded by the Rouge Revue Burlesque Company, a belly dancing and burlesque dance school, which has adopted Rape Crisis as its funding project for the past four years.
Tenille Lindeque-Joshua, of the Rouge Revue Burlesque Company in Salt River, said they were very excited that Rape Crisis was able to revamp its offices with the donations from the dance school. The funds were raised by burlesque and belly dancing shows held throughout the year, and a portion of the proceeds are donated to Rape Crisis.
“You think that with every show you are just donating this little bit and you think it is a drop in the ocean, but every little bit helps.”
Ms Lindeque-Joshua said be-cause she works with women, she had always wanted to support a woman’s organisation.
“Burlesque is all about celebrating women’s sexuality and sensuality, and, for some reason, we have been taught to be ashamed of it.”
She said Rape Crisis had been doing wonderful work, and it had been struggling to keep its doors open because of a lack of funding.
“Rape is a real issue in South Africa, and it is on the mind of every woman in South Africa who walks to their car at night and they are frightened.
“I feel like women who are survivors of rape have been robbed of their sexuality, and one of the reasons why I chose Rape Crisis is to support women who need to get in touch with their sensuality and sexuality again.”
Ms Lindeque-Joshua said Rouge Revue donated an average of R2 500 a show, in which she, her students and professional dancers were cast in.
However, the biggest donation to Rape Crisis comes from World Belly Dance Day and the Grand Exhibition International Burlesque Benefit, dancing events run by Ms Lindeque-Joshua.
“At the Grand Exhibition, which is an international burlesque event started last year, we donated R25 000. At World Belly Dance day this year, we donated R20 000. At this year’s Grand Expo, which will be on Saturday August 6, we are hoping to donate R30 000.”
Ms Dey said the funding for the renovations was covered from the proceeds donated from events run by Rouge Revue.
“Tenille approached us with her first World Belly Dance Day four or five years ago and asked us if we would like to be her beneficiary.
“She can up her sales so that people can donate to a good cause, and we benefit immensely because people learn about us through the show, and, of course, the proceeds.”
Rape Crisis, which also has an office in Trill Road, Observatory and Msobomvu Drive, Khayelitsha, deals with rape survivors, men and women, from the age of 14.
“When someone is raped, they experience devastating emotional trauma because they have been robbed of their intimacy, or they feel betrayed because it’s someone that they trusted. It can cause emotional distress and scars that you can’t really see.”
The centre has 15 volunteer counsellors who assist rape survivors, who are all women from the Athlone community trained by Rape Crisis.
“They live in the community and they know what the community needs.
“A lot of people come here to learn how to be a counsellor, and we want to give women the opportunity to grow within their community,” said Ms Dey.
Asked about the incidence of rape in the Athlone area, Ms Dey said the number of sexual offences is high, but most of them are not reported to the police because people are afraid to speak out about it.
“It’s like it’s shaming to know that it happens in your road, or in your community.”
According to the crime statistics dated from March 2014 to April 2015, 80 sexual offence cases were reported to the Athlone SAPS.
However, this is not a true reflection of the situation, as the stats are only compiled from cases reported.
The statistics for 2016 have not yet been released.
Athlone police spokesperson Sergeant Zita Norman said most cases of sexual offence are a result of substance abuse and domestic violence.
She said there are a number of cases where people who are in relationships have been raped, or where a husband rapes a wife.
She said the Athlone SAPS, through workshops and school visits, try to educate the youth and the community about their bodies and to inform them about crime and the circumstances of it, including rape and sexual assault.
However, she reiterated that the 80 cases reported to the Athlone police are not a true reflection of the situation in Athlone, as people are still ashamed to come forward when they are sexually violated.
“Eighty cases is not many cases if you look at how large the Athlone police precinct is.”
Sergeant Norman encouraged residents to report sexual violence so that they can receive the necessary help, and that the perpetrators can be brought to justice.
* Anyone who would like to receive assistance, or donate to Rape Crisis can call 021 633 9229, or visit www.rapecrisis.org.za
Ms Lindeque-Joshua encouraged interested people to see what burlesque is about, and donate to a good cause, at the Grand Exhibition on Saturday August 6, at 14 Hope Street, Gardens. Visit http://therougerevue.co.za/grand-exhibition/ for details.