The 2011 drought and subsequent famine in the Horn of Africa and Kenya, recently declared the worst in 60 years, resulted in an estimated 12.5 million people facing a severe food crisis and in urgent need of emergency assistance.
While violence against women and children is often associated with war and economic disaster, natural disasters can bring equally severe risks. The impact of drought and subsequent poverty and displacement heightens vulnerability to gender-based violence among women and children.
In particular, breakdown in physical and social systems for protection during crisis – like the recent drought and famine – increases vulnerability to sexual violence and exploitation.
Every day in Kenya five children are defiled. One out of every two women are raped at least once in their lifetime. However, these numbers are conservative. According to FIDA-Kenya, an organization devoted to ending injustices and discrimination against Kenyan women: only one in 20 women will report a rape, and only one in 6 women will seek medical assistance.
Interpol reports that South Africa ranks as number one in the world for the most rapes against women and children, in addition to having the fastest accelerating rate of HIV.
A rape occurs every 17 seconds in South Africa but it is estimated that only 1 in 9 rapes are ever reported to the police. Incredibly, few rapists are ever convicted and the sad reality is that rape statistics for South Africa in particular are on the rise especially for children.
It is estimated that one in every two women will be raped in their lifetime at least once. Between 28% and 30% of adolescents reported that their first sexual encounter was forced (information provided by Rape South Africa). Mysticism around women and girls holding magical healing powers offers further insight into how rape became associated with a cure for AIDS, now a pandemic in South Africa. A girl born in South Africa is more likely to be raped than she will learn to read, according to CIET, the Community of Information, Empowerment and Transparency.
What We Have Done
Tough Angels has successfully:
- supplied school funding for a number of children in South Africa
- assisted in building a new home with running water and electricity for a Zulu woman and the 16 orphaned children she cares for, who have been abused and/or have lost parents to HIV/AIDs
- contributed funding to a rural school in Kenya to prevent its closing
- joined in partnership with UNICEF and IRC (International Rescue Committee), as a member of the Kenya Gender Based Violence (GBV) Partnership, which is building a Resource Center in Lodwar, Kenya – “Wings of Hope”
- completed a women’s sustainable agriculture project, which will feed 700 families in Turkana County
The Wings of Hope Resource Center
The long-term goal of education holds the highest hope of shifting the mentality of a patriarchal society, which often objectifies women and children. Consensual sex is a term rarely discussed, much less understood. Through structured programs created for communities dealing with violence against women and children, the Wings of Hope Resource Center becomes a safe place to be heard, understood, supported, and informed. A bond develops within the community and becomes the foundation for social change. Curriculum and training is offered to community leaders and members, which gives information about HIV and its prevention, in addition to the concept of consensual sex. Within community forums, discussions are encouraged and education is provided to dispel the tribal myths of the HIV/AIDS cure of having sex with a virgin child.
Tough Angels will also support survivors in safety, and restore dignity, hope and healing through education and offering of creative, expressive, and non-verbal therapies, including art, music, writing, and dance. These therapies have been shown to revitalize the spirit and reclaim one’s body after physical and emotional trauma. They also connect survivors on a universal level, regardless of language spoken.
“We can no longer afford to ignore the truth. Until every child is protected and safe from harm, this responsibility belongs to every living adult, no matter race, creed, residency, or socioeconomic standing.” ~ Patricia Melnice, Tough Angels
The Rings of Hope Project
The first Rings of Hope Project was launched in 2009 during Patricia’s first trip to Africa, when she experienced the transformational value of selling her wedding ring to help finance the building of a new home for a Zulu woman named Lady Fair. Lady Fair rescues at-risk children (many sexually abused) from the streets and takes them into her home to protect, feed them and insure they are enrolled and attending school. You can read more about the story of how the Wedding Ring Project came to be in Patricia’s Journals. Today, in her new home, Lady Fair protects and nurtures nearly double the number of children who were in her care in 2009.
Now the The Rings of Hope Project has expanded to provide funding for the Wings of Hope Resource Center. You can send Tough Angels your unwanted, broken, or re-purposed jewelry, which will be exchanged with its total value delivered directly to this pilot project. Your donations will mobilize the community through education, support, and resources to bring an end to rape and discriminatory violence against women and children.