Statistics show that every 13 minutes a woman or child is raped in South Africa.
War Against Rape (WAR) founder Janine Rowley, says she strives and fights for an equal and safe South Africa.
Rowley is a well-known activist for gender equality, a sister and a mother to victims of abuse, rape and child molestation in the Gauteng province.
She has been honoured with the prestigious Paul Harris award from Rotary for her contribution to the efforts of more than 18 charity organisations she serves and was also recognised at an international level by Oprah Winfrey who donated a house to her.
WAR was established 20 years ago, and as of today, WAR’s footprints continue to support and save lives of many individuals in several communities in Pretoria including Soshanguve, Hammanskraal, Sunnyside, East Lynne, Olievenhoutbosch, Eesterust and Hermanstad.
Rowley said personally experiencing child molestation and being afraid to speak out as a child made her realise the need to take charge and be the change needed for children and women in the country.
“It is heart breaking to learn about the bad things that happen to children and women everyday hence, I saw that it was important to be the voice for the voiceless,” she said.
“Fighting abuse, child molestation, rape, hunger and poverty is no longer a job but a part of me because women and children in disadvantaged communities are faced with hardships and need all the help and support, they can get.”
She said each day, WAR supports and assist people through feeding schemes, distribution of comfort packs for rape survivors at trauma centres, hospitals, clinics and shelters adding that: “through donations and charity work, we are able to feed more than 500 children in disadvantaged communities each week.”
For the past two decades Rowley has been working alongside the poor and elderly as well as victims of rape and abuse in less privileged communities supporting them and giving them hope for a better future.
Sharing her dream for women, she said: “Women are special. Abuse must stop because women are not here to be used instead, they must be loved, respected and cherished.”
“Our women are peace holders and all I want is to see women having a bright future, spreading their wings into the world because women are intelligent people and the world must embrace them.”
To celebrate women’s month, WAR has collaborated with MUD studio in Brooklyn, Pretoria where they will be hosting Make-up workshops for women which is a fundraising activity where a percentage of the tickets sales will be donated to WAR.
Owner of MUD studio, Ratile Motlhoioa said she saw the need to get involved with WAR because she wanted to help her fellow counterparts who have been through dire situations.
“When I first heard of WAR, I realised that most women and girls have been through a lot and some no longer have hope, that is why decided to get involved in charity work and help others,” she said.
Elaborating more about the beauty workshops, Motlhoioa said she wanted to give women a purpose and a platform to embrace themselves without anyone judging them about their flaws.
“We are not saying women are not beautiful, we are saying come with your beauty and let’s enhance it together on a platform where we are all equal,” explained Motlhoioa.
“I want women to show the world that they are capable of doing anything and everything they put their minds to and that they can also achieve many things just like men can.”
She said by donating a percentage of the tickets sales to War, women and girls’ dignity would be restored, saving them the embarrassment that comes with not having the basics needed by every female.
“The organisation needs funds in order to provide victims with comfort packs as there are a lot of things that must be bought for the girls and women.”
Rowley encouraged people to be more involved in charity work, emphasising that, “donations from individuals, companies and organisations have enabled WAR to conquer social ills in disadvantaged communities.”
“My dream is to see a South Africa where people are united and able to help each other. It does not matter how much you have or do, as long as you help someone in need, you are building a better South Africa for everyone” Rowley said.
Koketso Ramorei is a journalist and news editor of SADC News with years of experience in a number of genres including sports, politics and community reporting. He has worked for a numerous publications including The Citizen Newspaper and is a former editor of a Johannesburg-based off-campus publication called The Waldorfian Times.