TEARS – Transform Education about Rape and Sexual Abuse, sexual abuse and HIV/AIDS are challenges facing all South Africans.
Unfortunatley, many victims do not know where to find help. This, coupled with a lack of accesssible information results in victims not getting the attention that they need. Mara Glennie, founder of TEARS has this to say: “My motivation comes from a deeply personal space. I myself was a survivor of violence. I felt helpless and desperate and did not know where to turn. The memory of that feeling has never left me." It is estimated that 75 – 80% of victims of abuse do not report these crimes.
There are many reasons for this however, according to Mara, there is insufficient awareness of where victims can get help, information and how the justice system operates. TEARS aims to address this lack of information by providing instant referrals to the nearest assistance facilities by form of a “USSD” system (*134*7355# ), (similar to the “call back” sms) and to promote a change in societal attitudes through educational and awareness programmes.
Each of the women involved in this initiative or someone close to them, has had their own experience, and understands how it feels to be powerless and hopeless. Rape/Sexual Assault survivors need understanding and counselling in order to recover. They also need to be able to report such acts of violence and heal from them in an environment that is non-threatening. While it is unrealistic to believe we can eradicate this type of violence completely, by increasing awareness we hope to significantly reduce it.