Rape survivors, activists decry stereotypes and culture of silence as SA marks Women’s Day

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Anglican Church Reverend June Dolley-Major has called on the church to allow for an independent investigation to be conducted into allegations of rape which she has laid against another priest from the church. She was allegedly raped by the fellow priest 18 years ago.

Reverend Dolley-Major suspended her most recent hunger strike in July when after years of non-action against the accused priest and during which time three case dockets went missing, the church finally agreed to reopen the case.

She joined a group of gender activists this morning outside the residence of Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba in Bishopscourt, where they hung dozens of panties on the fence outside his home, as part of a protest in support of her.

“The Archbishop and the safer church basically are investigating themselves. The people on this panel are all priests or Anglicans, with the exception of one person and they all come from Johannesburg and I had major problems with that because no one can investigate themselves. You can’t be investigator, judge, and jury, of yourself,” says Dolley-Major.

Protest misdirected 

Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba’s office has described the protest as misdirected. In a statement, Makgoba says the church is committed to a fair and transparent process for all abuse cases.

He says the Church Commission is investigating the matter and it is unlikely that it will comment before they have reported back to the Revered Dolley-Major.

Gender-based violence

Meanwhile, a group of gender activists from various parts of Cape Town also staged a protest at the Athlone Stadium against ongoing Gender-Based Violence and child abuse in South Africa to commemorate Women’s Day.

The protestors say they demonstrated outside the stadium because it is located close to the studio of a well-known Cape Town jazz musician and music teacher who was recently arrested on a charge of rape. He is due to stand trial at the end of October for allegedly grooming and raping one of his young male students over several years.

Non-Governmental Organisation, One Billion Rising, organised the protest.

“To the perpetrators out there, we see you and we will see you in court. Today, on this Women’s Day, it is about the children. The children of this country, the children of this community and also the children that have been victims of this heinous crime,” says the organisation’s Spokesperson, Lucinda Evans.

Although the activists commemorated Women’s Day, they say there will be no cause for celebration until they country can unmute the stereotypes and culture of silence that protects the rights of perpetrators rather than those of the victims.

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