Workshop tackles sexual abuse

Shaamielah Francis, facilitator at Rape Crisis Athlone.

The South African National Zakah Fund (SANZAF) and Rape Crisis recently held a workshop at the Bridgetown Library to educate people about sexual abuse.

The workshop was attended by about 30 people, among them Sanzaf beneficiaries and care workers.

The three-hour workshop was aimed at educating people in Athlone about the different types of rape; what to do if you are a victim of rape or if you come across a victim of rape; what sexual harassment is and how to deal with it; and also encouraged people to challenge rape culture and focus on debunking myths and stereotypes around rape.

Nurene Jassiem, communications officer at Sanzaf, said additional matters were addressed in a question and answer session afterward.

“We definitely want to do more events with Rape Crisis,” she said.

Rifqah Barnes, co-ordinator of training and development at Rape Crisis Athlone, said each person learned through their own experiences and their stories were shared in the workshop.

“Many discussions among community members took place and this allowed for people to talk about the challenges to community members that they know, understand and can relate to,” she said.

When asked why it was important for people to be educated about rape and the effects of rape, she said: “Through working this way with our community, community members shift their own thinking by listening to others and reflecting on discussions, especially when it comes to blaming and shaming survivors of rape, and to recognise that rape or sexual violence is not normal.

“We want our community to be educated and empowered so that our Athlone community’s voices can be heard and we start to speak out about rape and sexual abuse. We want our community to know that we are here to support you and your family as a survivor of rape and that here are people who care.

“We are giving back and following up on what our community has presented to us that they need,” she added.

For more information, call Sanzaf Welfare Office Bridgetown at 021 638 5108 or Rape Crisis Athlone at 021 633 9229