As part of its involvement in the annual 16 Days of Activism campaign for no violence against women and children, local awareness group Rape Crisis have embarked on a door to door campaign within the areas of Athlone. As part of this initiative, volunteers will conducts surveys amongst the residents in order to ascertain their views on rape culture, and whether it has had an impact in their area. Volunteers will be accompanied by a strong police presence, as well as representatives of the Athlone Community Policing Forum (CPF).
“We want to mobilize the community, and engage with them in these kinds of conversations. This is so at the end of the day we can challenge the stereotypes that increase rape culture,” explained Rape Crisis training and development co-coordinator, Rifqah Abrahams.
As such, the organization will seek to inquire from residents their experiences with the issue, and whether they deemed it a problem in their own community. In the broader scheme of things, she was hopeful this could assist in the long running fight against rape.
The campaign officially kicked off on Tuesday, with between 10 and 15 local volunteers taking part in the inaugural event. They were joined by 5 International students from the UK based York University.
“Yesterday was the first day, and I can say we felt very safe in the community, and people were very open to engaging with us. Because we have the presence of the police and neighborhood watch, we felt very safe,” she said.
Apart from conducting the survey, Rape Crisis will also be hosting a community dialogue session at the Athlone Police Station on the 10thDecember. This will be to discuss possible problem solving techniques, as well as relaying the information collected during the survey.
“We will also be handing out information packs, where we have booklets, pamphlets and other resources for the families to keep in their households. You never know when you may need that emergency number for a friend or family member,” she said.
The group is simultaneously conducting a social media campaign, aimed at getting people to raise awareness about rape through online tweets. The #speakout campaign, will urge rape survivors and victims’ to speak out about their situation.
“At the same time we are looking to raise funds for a video around rape. We want this video to be played at different events, so the community can be encouraged to speak out,” she added.
The door to door campaign is expected to run until the 2nd December.
To make a donation towards the cause, visit the organizations website at www.rapecrisis.org.za. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)