I remember my initial reaction towards being a part of this talk.“They’re so young,” I thought.
“How do you speak around such a heavy, terrible topic to minds who shouldn’t have to face this?”No one should ever have to face rape. There’s never an ‘easy’ way to speak around the topic but I just couldn’t fathom the innocence of these minds having to grasp the realities of this.
We were invited to the school to speak to the learners after one of the learners, a 12-year-old girl, had been raped and murdered within the community. We usually start the assembly off with something light to get them engaged, and then the talk begins. Staring out into all those faces you’ll find a mixture of emotions. Some are listening with open faces, taking in what is being said, some are whispering to their friends, joking about a different topic and not engaged or interested. Some faces are hardened to what you’re speaking about; why, I do not know. A sad reality is many become desensitised to this happening; it’s become a norm in many communities. It’s been reported so often that it just becomes something the norm. But then there’s that one face with tear stained cheeks and glossy eyes… a face that seems to carry a weight; either a weight of empathy to the many impacted or a story of her own.
The talk is based around value and hope; a reminder for victims of this horrendous act that rape is not their fault. We encourage the learners to look out for one another and respect their fellow learners. A guy speaks to the boys around what it means to be a real man and how men should treat women. The reality is that some of them haven’t seen respect towards women modeled in their households. The aim of the campaign is also to educate the students around the steps they can take to report the case. At the core of it all, we hope the campaign encourages them to speak up against rape, not giving it power by remaining silent.
Andrea Appel – WAR Facilitator and Youth Pastor in Mitchells Plain