Eighth annual Silent Protest highlight’s rape survivors’ rights

Attention: News Editors

For immediate release:


Thousands of volunteers will participate in the 8th annual Silent Protest on 1 August, at the start of Women’s Month. The protest, organised for the first time in Durban by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), in association with St Michael’s Lutheran Church, aims to highlight rape survivors’ right to Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) in order to prevent HIV sero-conversion. The demand for greater access to PEP is in line with AHF’s 20×20 Campaign. Central to the protest is the public act of showing solidarity with rape survivors who are often silenced by sexual violence. The Silent Protest will also take place in Grahamstown and Johannesburg.

For the past eight years, activists have staged the Silent Protest in order to draw public attention to rape, educate the public about their right to PEP after rape and to demand better services for survivors. Government crime statistics reveal that 66 000 sexual assaults were reported in SA last year. Of these, only 6.5 percent are successfully prosecuted and less than half of 1 percent of perpetrators will serve any jail-time. All studies agree that the vast majority of rape victims never report the crime to the police and there are many statistics available focusing on the ratio of reporting to non-reporting of rape survivors: the most conservative estimate comes from Rape Crisis (1 in 4) and the most shocking comes from the SAPS (1 in 25). These statistics translate to anywhere from 260 000 to over 1.5 million rapes annually.

“The national protest on the 01 August affirms our solidarity with the millions silenced by rape and sexual violence,” said AHF Policy and Advocacy Manager, Larissa Klazinga. “Survivors face victim-blaming, secondary victimisation and social stigma when they speak out about the violence they have experienced and often state service providers fail to respect the rights of survivors by not complying with norms and standards set out in national legislation and policy, specifically denying survivors PEP unless they report to the police.”

The event further aims to raise awareness around the epidemic of rape in South Africa, highlighting the silence around sexual violence and the state’s inability or unwillingness to support rape survivors, provide adequate healthcare including HIV services and access to justice.

DETAILS OF THE SILENT PROTEST: 01 August from 6am to 5pm

* DURBAN: St Michael Lutheran Church, 43 Milne Street, Durban CBD, Kwa-Zulu Natal

* GRAHAMSTOWN: Rhodes University, African Street, Grahamstown, Eastern Cape

* JOHANNESBURG: WITS University, Braamfontein, Gauteng


AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the largest non-profit HIV/AIDS healthcare provider in the USA. AHF currently provides medical care and/or services to more than 315,000 individuals in 34 countries.


Take Note

PR Dionne Collett



women's legal centre


women's legal centre


On 17 June 2014 President Zuma delivered his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) for the year, after the African National Congress won the 2014 general elections. The second SONA made it clear that the fifth democratic administration will move ahead with the priorities it established during the previous term, and further detailed in the national budget.

But what does this mean for women? Experts in the gender sector are not optimistic.  Whilst economic transformation must undoubtedly be a priority for our government, using the National Development Plan as a roadmap is unlikely to address the poverty of women. “Given that the NDP is a gender blind policy vision, this does not augur well for the poverty of women, who bear the brunt of inequality in SA. This is especially concerning in light of the fact that there is no scope for reshaping the NDP,” said feminist researcher, Joy Watson.

The second SONA was full of promise for the industrial-mineral-energy complex, which comprises an economy of extraction that uses land and water for mining, while entering “Coal 3” will be used to further power the extractive industries. “But this approach to economic growth could spell disaster for the environment and the health of the nation which over the longer term will undermine growth. We can no longer afford to have mining at the centre of our economic policy because it is unlikely to deliver to communities, and more likely to place added burdens on women, who are most affected by increasing social and environmental costs of compromising water and agricultural sources in favour of the industrial-mineral energy complex,” said health and budgets expert, Thokozile Madonko.

Lisa Vetten, researcher and gender violence expert, was not impressed by the lack of attention to violence against women. “There was no detail, no targets, and no concrete plans.”

Social policy researcher, Penny Parenzee, said, “Re-opening lodgement of claims for restitution of land was mentioned, but there was no reference to prioritizing women’s access to and control of land.  As with the first SONA in February of this year, women are invisible in the approach to land and housing.”

“Whilst the appointment of a dedicated Minster for Women in the Presidency is a positive step, one ministry cannot be a panacea for all the challenges faced by women in South Africa. The service level agreements mentioned by the President in his second SONA should make all departments accountable for promoting and fulfilling the rights of women – in their programmes and their spending”, said Sanja Bornman of the Women’s Legal Centre.

At the end of June 2014, the Women’s Legal Centre will publish a report that analyses government spending in 2013/2014 in priority areas for women, and assesses the 2014/15 budget.


For more information, contact:

SANJA BORNMAN, attorney: 083 522 2933

LISA VETTEN, researcher: 082 822 6725

THOKOZILE MADONKO, researcher: 083 710 3440


I’ve had enough. And so should you

In 2008, proud racist David Bullard was fired from the Sunday Times  for a column wherein he denigrated black South Africans. In seems that, after the failure of his many legal matters against the Sunday Times and its owning company Avusa, Bullard found a new hobby. And that hobby is harassing and bullying rape survivors  - and I get the special honour of being his target of choice.

Six months ago, Bullard wrote the following as a footnote to a column published by Politicsweb. In short, Bullard accused me of planning to blackmail my rapist; that I made up having being raped due a “fevered imagination”; and, therefore, was preventing the proverbial “we” from taking rape seriously.


From Bullard’s Politicsweb article. (Click to enlarge.)

I decided not to take the matter further. In the months to follow however, it appeared that Bullard’s rape apology and harassment was infectious and spread to comment threads around the web, as well as my Facebook profile. The Daily Maverick – which could once boast a stringent comment moderation policy – has a comment thread that can by-and-large be described as the pseudo-intellectual’s News24. With its fall from grace came Bullard’s misogynist and rape apologist followers, who quickly ensured the once hallowed halls of DM commentary was a lion’s den for me as a rape survivor.


A comment thread from Daily Maverick.

I still didn’t take the matter further after Bullard began regularly harassing me about my rape and calling me Twitter’s “terminally unhinged” and “a few chocolates short of a box”. That is, until today.

1 2 3

I didn’t take the matter further. Until now.

The last six months have been a new low for me and my experience of living as a rape survivor in South Africa. For the first time since I publicly spoke out about my rape in 2011, I seriously regretted ever speaking out. I wanted to take it back.

For the first time, I was told that my rape, wasn’t rape. I was told I was a delusional liar with no credibility to speak or fight against rape and sexual violence in my country. I was told that, because people like me make up rape, South Africans couldn’t take rape seriously.

I wasn’t told this once. I wasn’t told this twice. I was repeatedly told in a variety of fora.

Why? Because I chose not to report my rape to the police.

I didn’t report my rape in 2010, and neither have as many as 1,5-million other South African men, women and children who experienced sexual violence since then. These 37 men and women have shared why they didn’t report.  And others have shared that they did try to report their rape – while some of them wish they never did.

Bullard is trying his damnedest to undermine my credibility and, thereby, my work in the sexual violence sector as well as my work for abuse survivors in South Africa.

This is a call to arms for all right thinking people, including rape survivors, their families and their friends to stand up against what is nothing less than outright rape apology.

Bullard’s tweets represent nothing less than the hate and violence meted on rape survivors when they are not only not believed, but punished for daring to speak. I’ve had enough, and any decent South African has had enough.

Therefore I am asking that all South Africans that want a South Africa free of sexual violence and supportive of rape survivors to stand up against Bullard and his trolls. Stand up for all the rape survivors, both out spoken and silent, who have been affected by Bullard’s casual dismissal of my rape experience for his own cynical ends.

Report Bullard’s rape apology, and that of any other person who attempts to undermine the credibility of a rape survivor through victim-blaming, slut-shaming, rape apology and online abuse.

I broke my silence and I will never be silent again. 

Why I didn’t report my rape #38 – “I didn’t know it was rape”

I didn’t know it was rape until learning the definition of rape in a psych 101 class.

We had been hooking up for months and he begged and pleaded and I’d always say no. I wasn’t a virgin but after falling in love with my friends-with-benefits partner in the past I didn’t want to risk being hurt again emotionally.

One day, he said ‘but don’t you want us to be official, the only way to prove you love me is to do it’ or something along those lines. I tried to put it out my mind so long I don’t quite remember his exact words. Begrudgingly I agreed because I did love him and I did want for us to be official.

I joke that it was the worst sex I ever had. I was uncomfortable and unwilling but I did it because when it came to him I was a blind naive little girl.

It wasn’t violent and it wasn’t a stranger in a dark alley. He was my best friend. He was the person I cared most about. And I disrespected myself by letting him ‘coerce’ me into having sex with him.

And honestly if I walked into any police station and told them that they would probably laugh and tell me to stop wasting their time.


PLEASE NOTE: The “Why I didn’t report” stories are submitted by rape survivors and victims from around South Africa (and a couple from abroad) as well as by their family members and friends. These stories are published anonymously at the request of the authors. Please do not re-publish these stories outside of this website without my permission, as I have to clear this with the author of the story. This is in order to maintain the integrity of the authors’ stories, as well as respect their privacy. Please help me create safe spaces for survivors to tell their stories by respecting this request.

If you would like to include your story in this conversation, please email me: michelle at journoactivist dot com. I will assume anonymity for all submissions unless specified otherwise.

If you are rape survivor and need someone to talk to, please don’t hesitate to call the ‘Stop Gender Violence’ helpline at 0800 150 150.