Life After Rape. Portrait Survivor series in South Africa
‘… too many rapists do not view their actions as wrong, too many girls are made to feel shame when they should only feel outrage, and too many people – neighbours, parents, colleagues, teachers – are standing by while this happens, encouraging rape with silence. Some even blaming the victim.’
TAC Campaigner (Treatment Action Campaign) – Mandla Majola
Rape is all too often not treated with the seriousness it deserves in South Africa and Africa in general. Given the high rates of rape, as high as 1 every 26 seconds in South Africa, tackling general attitudes is almost as important as providing the professional emergency follow-up treatment and long-term counselling that is essential for rape survivors.
Without the support of loved ones and surrounded by unsympathetic sentiments, many survivors sink into a deep sense of shame, depression and other mental conditions commonly known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or more specifically as Rape Trauma Syndrome. This psychological condition often becomes entrenched and affects every aspect of a survivor’s daily life and becomes hard to escape in the long-term.
By standing up tall in front of a camera and lights, survivors were portrayed in a manner that conveyed them in a positive way where true beauty lies not on the surface but stems from deep inside those with the courage and strength to face their worst nightmares.
Each survivor prepared to come forward was photographed at a location of personal significance and with an item or person that was singled out as having been the greatest source of strength during their long journeys from their appalling ordeals. This was anything or anyone, from their children, a counsellor to a book of poems or religious artefacts symbolic of their strong faiths.
By raising community awareness in South Africa and having a positive impact on this all-to-often hidden but rampant disease that has taken a cold grip on Africa as a whole, these images are aimed at empowering other survivors who have been too scared or ashamed to come forward. If just one image inspires a single survivor to come forward, the project as a whole will have been deemed to be a success.
also see Child Rape Crisis
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