Children:

[singing]

 

Karien:

The Children's Charter of South Africa claims that children have the right to be safe, secure, and protected. It also says that all children should be treated the same and have a say in the matters that affect them. The charter gives them many more rights which most children probably don't even know about, let alone understand. But to the many adults on whom these children rely, the charter demands no more than to simply respect children as the most vulnerable people in our society.

 

 

This two-part documentary is not for children. It's about them. It's an effort to look beyond the silent and often misunderstood surface of their outward behaviour. Here you will have the opportunity to hear some very brave children tell their stories. They do it trusting you'll be brave enough to listen.

 

Police:

[inaudible] you're with him. That's the reason for the arrest. All right. Come. Get your stuff.

 

Karien:

Vanna is 14 years old. It's her first bout with the police. The man she is with is a teacher in his 30s. He's married and has a child of his own. Since his youth he has been in trouble with the law. This is his second arrest for abducting a child under the age of 16.

 

Police:

You came here willing?

 

Vanna:

Yes.

 

Police:

[inaudible]

 

Vanna:

Not anymore.

 

Police:

Why?

 

Vanna:

If you love somebody you'll do anything for that person.

 

Police:

But you're still a kid.

 

Vanna:

Some people have feelings.

 

Police:

You have to be at school. Yes. Some people have feelings. But you have to be at school. At this age you have to be at school.

 

Karien:

The police found a letter Vanna wrote in which she promises to try and act more like an adult. They also found a tattoo apparatus which he used to tattoo her arm.

 

 

At home in Cape Town, Vanna's aunt who adopted her when she was seven struggles to understand why she ran off with a teacher.

 

Vanna's Aunt:

The school knew that there was an affair between the teacher and the child. And they just didn't tell me.

 

Karien:

How do you know they knew?

 

Vanna's Aunt:

Because afterwords the principle, who is the father, told me. And I said to him, "But why didn't you call me in?" He says, "No, I thought I could handle it." It's sickening to think that you send your child to a school, to a boarding school, right, where they should be safe. And they're not. I gave her everything and for her to have done, to have just left and run off, that was very, very hurtful.

 

Karien:

Don't you see sleeping with a 14-year-old as rape?

 

Vanna's Teacher:

Rape is when you take somebody and you force somebody into bed and take my force and you hurt them. But if you care about somebody I don't feel that you're raping that person.

 

Vanna's Aunt:

She was a child. He was the adult. And nobody but nobody is going to tell me a child could tell an adult what to do.

 

Vanna:

[inaudible] my mother doesn't even care about me.

 

Karien:

Why do you say that?

 

Vanna:

She threw me away. I had to go live with my grandparents while she was in Johannesburg. And then I went to her. I got abused by her fucking, step, whatever, my stepfather.

 

Karien:

In Cape Town, Vanna's aunt explained that Vanna's mother fell pregnant when she was 18. Vanna will never know her father because he denied having fathered her and has never contacted her mother since.

 

Vanna's Aunt:

When Vanna was born, you know, Vanna could cry. The mother would look at the child. She never bonded with the child. If it wasn't for me or my mom, the child would probably have died. Like her stepfather, you know, the way he hit her. Kicked her around. Her body was blue. And I always used to say, "But why didn't your mother intercept? Why didn't she do something?" "No, my mommy loves him so." And I didn't want her to grow up thinking that if you are being loved you must be abused.

 

Karien:

So Vanna's aunt adopted her and sent her to various therapists for treatment. But they couldn't get through to her and she remained a troubled child.

 

Vanna's Aunt:

You know what she used to do? She used to steal our things and go and sell it, pawn it, whatever. I can't trust her. And that's very, very so hard. And this feeling alone is killing me. And I love this child! I love her like my own.

 

Karien:

It's a sad story which gets even sadder as it unfolds. But the saddest part is that Vanna's story isn't unique. Everywhere and every day there are children suffering from rejection and abuse. And they may be closer to you than you think.

 

Sergeant:

Hello mam. Okay? [foreign language].

 

 

I'm being accompanied by Zukie's mother in connection with the alleged rape committed by your son. Are you aware about it?

 

Woman:

Yes.

 

Sergeant:

Okay. So because I understand the child is under the age, is 13 years, I'm going to warn you to bring him to my office tomorrow to take his statement.

 

Karien:

The mother was visibly upset. She said she knew her son was mentally retarded. He suffered severe epileptic fits. But she never expected him to rape a six-year-old girl. Meanwhile, a group of women began gathering outside.

 

Sergeant:

This woman has got a big problem. These are neighbours. They are saying the other neighbours around here, they want to come and burn their house. After hearing this story they are concerned about the perpetrator as well and the victim because they are both children.

 

Woman:

Maybe he was once abused, this child. That's why he is doing something like this.

 

Woman:

The mothers not drinking.

 

Woman:

[inaudible] really. It's a sad story. It's a sad story.

 

Karien:

The next day, Zukie and her sister as well as the alleged perpetrator and his mother went to the sergeant's office. Here, the frightened little girl tried her best to explain what happened.

 

Girl:

[foreign language]

 

Karien:

After a long, laborious questioning session sergeant [Selepe] deduced that it wasn't the first time it had happened. And that the 13-year-old boy wasn't the only suspect. The two older brothers were probably also involved. But it was difficult to get Zukie to admit anything. Sergeant [Selepe] asked her repeatedly how she felt. And each time the answer was, "fine".

 

Girl:

[foreign language]

 

Sergeant:

[foreign language]

 

Girl:

[foreign language]

 

Sergeant:

[foreign language]

 

Karien:

As his mother spoke, the story unfolded. Here was a boy who lived in a two-roomed house with his mother and father and six other boys of whom some were already men.

 

Sergeant:

So she says sometimes she does go and leave them for the week, so, by themselves. So you won't know what is happening at home when the mother is not there.

 

Karien:

The boy sat there showing no emotion. Yet he clearly understood what was happening. The mother said his father beat him so often that he'd reached a point where no form of punishment had any effect on him.

 

Sergeant:

Maybe it's because this child has been punished too much by the father. And then it's not only sexual activities that he does to other children. Also he assaults other children he loathes. So it's out of anger.

 

Karien:

A few days later we revisited the house where both the suspect and the victim live. Here we gained insight and more understanding for the way thousands of children are growing up.

 

Sergeant:

You see this structure, Karien? You can have about 20 people staying here. This is the house where the suspect lives and there are about nine of them in this house. So [inaudible] for you to see the house.

 

 

So this is the house. This is where they live. So this is the partition I was talking about. They can peep underneath. The curtain is not even a door. And this is the room the mother and the father sleeps.

 

Karien:

And where do the children sleep?

 

Sergeant:

They sleep in the kitchen. There are about seven children who are sleeping in this room. What I feel is that this boy is from an abusive family. The mother has already explained to me that how the father physically abuses him. Like hitting him against the wall. Hitting him against the ceiling. You can see this house, the ceiling, the roof, it's a concrete roof. You can see the roof. So we took the boy and the boy is being placed at a place of safety. [inaudible] that's where the child is being placed. And he's going to go to school from there because he was not even schooling.

 

 

I feel so bad about this case for the fact that people are living in small places. And you know, a place like this one whereby there is no privacy. That's my main concern. Because children are exposed to this. Especially sexual activities. The physical abuse of the boy is very bad. So the father will be charged for that. So something is done about it. And the mother is also pleased that at least something is done. So the father is a bully. The mother is even scared of the father.

 

Karien:

When we who think we're unaffected hear about child abuse, we almost always blame the mother. She's the one who should protect her child no matter what the cost. And there are mothers who do. But often, as in Zukie's case, the mothers are neither emotionally nor financially equipped to cope with the situation. And very often they too are traumatised and victimised by a society that's aloof and condemning.

 

Catherine:

Most of the mothers find it very difficult to report the sexual abuse if the perpetrator is one of the family members. Most of the time we find out the mother is not working. So they are very much dependent on their husband. So essentially they just sit on such things and they don't report them. They sit on sexual abuse. And it happens, it carries on and on for years.

 

Karien:

Catherine Sibeko is a psychiatric nurse at the Zamokuhle clinic. She helps mothers to cope with traumatic consequences of having discovered their children's abuse. These mothers are all trying to deal with the fact that their children have been raped by either a family member or a neighbour they trusted.

 

Catherine:

Most of them also thought there is a lot of stigma attached to sexual abuse. And they wouldn't talk about it out there. But since they started coming to this clinic and sharing with the other mothers their experiences, they have come to realise that it's, there's not that much of a stigma. And the community needs to know about this.

 

Woman:

[foreign language]

 

Catherine:

Many men who are just idling around at home feel like trying it out. They hear from the radio, from the TV, that so many kids are being abused, sexually abused. Then they feel like trying it out. Then they do it.

 

Woman:

[foreign language]

 

Karien:

Zamokuhle is a small but very active centre. It's the only community-based clinic of its kind in Soweto. A place where children are medically examined and where they and their parents can receive therapy and court preparation. Since the clinic open its doors about four years ago thousands of children and parents have come for help. People are willing to change transport up to four times just to get there. Yet the clinic consists of only two doctors, a few social workers, and nurses, while also trained as counsellors, some volunteers, and a part-time psychologist.

 

Harnisha Nathoo:

When I started I was completely inundated. I used to see up to 18 children a day. And I'm only here once a week. So but I've cut that down drastically to six to eight a day. That's only because I've realised that the children really need the individual therapy more than they need the group therapy. I'm now getting the very young children and everybody sees the older children. So young, I mean as young as two.

 

Emelda:

Hyperactivity is one of the symptoms in sexually abused children. I think with this one, she might be hyperactive with playing things because of she's trying to block what has happened to her. It's painful for her to think of those kind of things. I allow her to play with any toy that is in the room just to start to form a relationship with me and then as time goes on, then I will start on focusing on the issues that I need to deal with. That is when I can start doing direct play therapy. But it also depends on what kind of a child is she? With this one, I think she is very open. She's talkative, and she's a little bit free with me. Some of the kids, you can see them for 10 sessions and they are still withdrawn. They don't want to play and they don't want to talk.

 

Harnisha Nathoo:

The children come with a lot of anger which needs to be contained and worked through. And if it's not worked through, then it manifests in aggressive ways. And most commonly, adults then express that when they have their own children. A child that is being abused grows up and then manifests those aggressive actions or that anger onto their children. And that can be in the form of hitting them or abusing them.

 

Karien:

This aggressive behaviour was clearly seen in a five-year-old boy who was assessed at a clinic in Pretoria. He was brought there because of his habitual swearing and his bad, uncontrollable behaviour. When he was given a choice of toys, he chose the boxing gloves. He also enjoyed the hammer. This wasn't abnormal. Not on the surface. But towards the end of the three-hour session after he had been given an atomically correct doll of both sexes to bathe his behaviour became questionable. He didn't want to undress or bathe the old lady.

 

Boy:

[foreign language]

 

Karien:

Sometime later when his attention was drawn back to the old lady, he demonstrated how she pulled his willy and ate it.

 

Woman:

[foreign language]

 

Boy:

[foreign language]

 

Karien:

Then he turned on the therapist and the dolls. His aggression was disturbing.

 

Woman:

[foreign language]

 

Harnisha Nathoo:

They lose the ability to trust in people. And it's more difficult if it's a family member because those are the people they love. A lot of uncontained anger. And a very poor self esteem. That's what I find. And a lot of fear. They withdraw a lot from school, amongst their friends. They withdraw at home from their friends as well. They don't go out and play.

 

Catherine:

The child gets healing by attending play therapy. There's a lot of issues that get addressed in play therapy. Feelings. And even the issue of rape gets discussed. The child gets healing. A lot of healing from therapy. And the mother too. If the mother attends counselling she gets to know the sexual abuse better than before, to know what to do about it. How to cope with it.

 

Karien:

At Zamokuhle there is also a support group for mothers who don't have a means of earning an income. Here they are taught how to knit and sew.

 

Woman:

Many of them, they can't do nothing. They know about the abuse. That's because they haven't got money. They haven't got anywhere to go. It's just take it like that. So today we see that we must come together as mothers. Your child is abused or not, we come together so that we must fight this crime. That said enough is enough.

 

Woman:

[foreign language]

 

Emelda:

That's why we say to them when they grow up they should bring them back for counselling.

 

Karien:

Do they?

 

Emelda:

No, I haven't met someone who has brought her child for the second time because he was abusing when she was three. What happened is that they just bring them maybe when the child is 12 years. And it has occurred again. When the child has been maybe raped or sexually abused for the second time. They don't take it very serious because they are denying it. And then the mother is thinking nothing has happened to the child because they don't know that even touching or fondling a child is sexual abuse. They don't believe it. And for them, if their child is playing okay with other children, it means that the child is not affected at all. It's because some of the children don't want to show it. Some of them, they don't feel comfortable because they don't receive any support from the family members. And they feel that there is no need for me to sit there and play and as long as they play with other children.

 

Karien:

Do you still remember Vanna? She's the 14-year-old who ran away with her married teacher in his 30s. It's time we took a closer look at Vanna's story. Let's go back to the scene of the arrest in Pretoria. What you haven't heard yet is her disclosure that as a very young child she was also molested by a man living on her aunt's property.

 

Vanna:

I got molested too and my aunt didn't all know it. But I couldn't remember so much anymore because I used to block it out of my mind.

 

Karien:

And this happened ... How old were you?

 

Vanna:

From since I was about two until I was 13. And then I couldn't take it anymore and I told my auntie. But between that time when I was about five, I lived and I came back when I was six because of the abusing of my stepfather. And it just went on. And then afterwards I told him straight to his face that was he was doing was wrong. And then afterwards then I told my auntie.

 

Karien:

At home, Vanna's aunt was physically ill with worrying about her adopted daughter. Yet she agreed to participate in the programme because she believed in might serve as a warning to other parents. What follows has no blame. It's simply a message to those who are willing to listen.

 

Vanna's Aunt:

For the last year I'd say we started drifting apart. She became totally uncontrollable. I couldn't tell her anything. If I tried to reprimand her she'll back chat me. That closeness that we had, we didn't have it. And I don't know what to do. I'm so confused!

 

Karien:

Did you know that one of the symptoms of sexual abuse is that children become uncontrollable?

 

Vanna's Aunt:

No, I didn't. I didn't.

 

Karien:

Another difficult assessment. This little boy was brought in because he had become completely uncontrollable. He would, for example, invite older boys to lie under his bed so that he could suck their willies. During the first three-hour session he avoided any meaningful interaction.

 

Woman:

[foreign language]

 

Karien:

The therapist simply played along until both of them ran out of steam. A month later he was brought in again. Though he gave into a lot of pent up anger and frustration, he cooperated this time. He drew his house. But no one except he was allowed to live in it.

 

Boy:

[foreign language]

 

Karien:

After almost three hours he was given the anatomically correct dolls which he used to show his intimate knowledge of sex.

 

Boy:

[foreign language]

 

Karien:

Though he said it was dirty and disgusting, when he thought the therapist wasn't watching he took one of the dolls under the table. Later when they were dressing the dolls, he asked her to leave the room. He said he would dress the dolls on his own. But after she left he didn't dress them.

 

Woman:

[foreign language]

 

Karien:

This behaviour showed definite signs of sexual abuse. And a lot of exposure to sex. As a very young child the inner core of this little boy was seriously damaged.

 

Luke:

What people don't like to hear about children is that they're also sexual. Okay? When children get touched on sexual areas the feeling is pleasurable. You'll see children touching one and another and experimenting and playing. And those things are normal. However, when adults come and start taking advantage of that, that is where it starts becoming a problem. Where children know what is happening is wrong. But at the same time their bodies feel a good sensation. And that is what creates the problem for the child around the guilt and so on. And that is what perpetrators take advantage of. So remember when a child is not talking-

 

Karien:

Luke Lampbrecht was speaking at a masters training workshop on the management of child sexual abuse in [inaudible]. He explained how some perpetrators groom their victims to a point where the child is caught in a web that he or she cannot escape from. This is probably what happened to Vanna.

 

Luke:

What they will do is they will start blurring the body boundaries. Good touch, which it was originally, turns into bad touch. This is not only with strangers. The incest family, the father could do exactly the same process within his own family. One phrase you must remember, it is not the monsters who abuse our children. It's the nice guys like you and me. What kind of job do they choose? Principals, teachers, priests, social workers, caregivers, childcare workers. They're called in Korea perpetrators. Their entire life is set up around having access to children.

 

Rene:

He will start to fulfil the child's emotional needs in terms of giving him love, giving him a lot of praise, doing new things with the child, giving him security in terms of I'll pick you up at four and he'll be there at four. And gradually, and this is the grooming process, gradually at the end he will start to touch the child's body. And then at the end he will abuse the child sexually. So you can very clearly see that it's a gradual process. And it's the grooming process actually to take hold of the child emotionally first. And then at the end they abuse the child sexually.

 

Vanna's Aunt:

The one thing she did tell me about this teacher was, that he was the only one that listened to her. And she looked up to him as a father. And I said to her, "Vanna, you looked up to him as a father. And that is where he found that he could abuse you. He could take it a bit further." And she said, "No, no, no, no, no! He understands me."

 

Karien:

Vanna's aunt agreed to let Renee Potgieter assess her child in the hope that someone would at last be able to get through to her.

 

Rene:

And how was he like? Your stepfather?

 

Vanna:

My mother was his fourth wife. One night he would sleep in my mother's bed. And I had to sleep in his third wife's bed. And then I had to sleep with my mother and he would sleep with his third wife. Like, that night he used to put my head in the water and he used to push me into the pillow and kick my head with his shoe on the pillow. My head would be in the pillow and his head, his shoe would be on my neck, keeping me down. But I was really upset with the fact that my mother, as much as she loves me and I know that she loves me, that she chose him above me because she sent me away.

 

Rene:

What did you do with that anger?

 

Vanna:

I used to beat other people that was smaller than me or people that I knew I could hurt. Or I used to hit my aunt and my grandmother because my grandmother is smaller than what I am. And she's older. So she couldn't hit me.

 

Karien:

Later in the assessment, Renee drew a world which was Vanna's alone. She could put anyone in it she wanted to. Her first reaction was to ask if she could choose someone she didn't know.

 

Vanna:

Can I choose somebody that isn't, that like-

 

Rene:

Yeah, anybody. Anybody. You can do that. It's your world. You can do that.

 

Vanna:

A father.

 

Rene:

Okay. Who would you like to stay outside of your world?

 

Vanna:

My stepfather.

 

Karien:

She added the man who stays on her aunt's property, his stepson, and the man at the butcher. They had to stay outside her world with her stepfather. Renee asked her why them? Her stepfather, she said, because he hurt her.

 

Rene:

And the man in the yard?

 

Vanna:

Because he likes touching.

 

Rene:

And his stepson?

 

Vanna:

The same reason.

 

Rene:

And the man at the butcher?

 

Vanna:

Also touching me and was telling me that he looked down my pants-

 

Karien:

Renee took Vanna through a slow moving but very painful process. It took time and patience to allow her to disclose in her own time and at her own pace.

 

Rene:

What did his hand do?

 

Vanna:

He used to move his hand around a lot in the front. And then afterwards he went further to the back all the time. I felt really dirty and embarrassed. And I couldn't do anything so I felt sorry for myself.

 

Rene:

Can you remember how old you were when he started doing this?

 

Vanna:

I can't remember. I can remember it was before but what I always did was I tried to forget about it. I always made myself forget about what happened. But sometimes you can't forget something.

 

Rene:

Well, there is no doubt this child was sexually abused over a really long period. It seems to me from the age of around about three to four years the abuse started. And what I can't really understand was the fact that she was in therapy for a very long time and nobody detected the sexual abuse. This child really clearly dissociated from the sexual abuse and then this whole process of dissociation creates a lot of feelings in the child and she's got to do something with that. And many times they actually start with behavioural problems because of this.

 

Vanna's Aunt:

In your mind you always think where have you gone wrong? What happened? Haven't you given enough attention? I thought the two of us had a fantastic relationship. Why didn't she trust me?

 

Rene:

Tell me about the feelings. What did you do with all those feelings?

 

Vanna:

I hid my feelings. I didn't want anybody to know what was happening because I was scared people would make fun of me if I said something like that. My mother would say I was lying or something.

 

V's Grandmother:

Vanna, she's got a lot of fantasies. She sees somebody now, she's got a fantasy about that one. I mean, that's how she was. That's how I know her. So I can't just go yes, it's true. I won't. I won't. I won't commit myself. Sorry. But with this one, he is a bad guy.

 

Rene:

She needs a father. So it was actually really easy for him at the end to use her sexually because he fulfilled, and I think he was the first one who actually fulfilled in all her emotional needs.

 

Karien:

During the assessment, Vanna explained how the teacher came to be her best friend. She felt safe with him, she said. He protected her.

 

Vanna:

That's why I ran away with him. That was the only way to be with him.

 

Karien:

She said that it wasn't that she wanted to have sex with him. She allowed it.

 

Vanna:

For me, it was our way of showing [inaudible].

 

Vanna's Aunt:

A teacher with I think it was six sentences against him. A teacher! You know?

 

V's Grandmother:

He robbed her of her education, of her career, of a life.

 

Vanna's Aunt:

I mean, this child, she wants to come home. But does she know what she's going to come home to? I think she, even though she's not the perpetrator, she will be made one living in a society here. What will the school say? Where will I put her in a school? What school will I send her to?

 

Rene:

Unfortunately, in her mind, she combined positive sexual feelings with emotional caring. Can you see? So this child, she's a high risk child. And I think if she doesn't get correct therapy, there's a lot of problems ahead.

 

Vanna's Aunt:

This guy is going to pay for what he has done. I'm not going to leave it lying because today it is my daughter, tomorrow someone else's daughter. And then he's got a daughter of his own.

 

V's Grandmother:

She always said, "Momma? I want to be a lawyer."

 

Vanna:

I always said to everybody that I was a mistake because my mother was young when she had me. I was thrown away and only bad things happen in my life. So to me, I'm not good enough.

 

Rene:

Who told you you're not good enough?

 

Vanna:

I tell myself I'm not good enough.

 

Rene:

She's not a mistake. She's a bundle of potential. But there's a lot of muddles in her head. A lot of hurt, a lot of pain. And the feeling that she actually was damaged as a person. So you can go on through therapy forever and you will not be able to help her until you've reached the sexual abuse and start to work on that.

 

Haley:

What I want you to start doing today is think about, if you all close your eyes, okay, close your eyes. I want you to think about something that makes you feel very scared or upset. Something that doesn't make you feel good.

 

Karien:

These are ordinary children in an ordinary school. Haley Burman is one of a few art therapists in the country.

 

Haley:

Okay, when you're ready, open your eyes and start painting. Okay? Or drawing.

 

Karien:

Like Vanna, most children find it very difficult to talk about abuse. Especially sexual abuse. And to protect themselves, they can disassociate it to the point where they may never verbalise what happened to them. Yet, they may be able to make a drawing in which the subconscious cries out for help.

 

Haley:

Okay, what we've been doing is going into schools in primarily training teachers. And when we work with the children, ask them to represent an image that they don't feel safe. And through this process we've come up with so many cases of violence that they've been exposed to. Of trauma that they've been witness to as well as a lot of abuse and rape cases.

 

Woman:

She loves her daughter more than myself.

 

Karien:

The children were asked to present their unsafe drawings to the class. This boy drew a picture of a harsh barrier separating him from his father, his stepmother, and stepsister. They stood inside the house while he stood outside in the rain.

 

Woman:

My daddy says I'm troublesome.

 

Haley:

While he keeps telling his father that his stepmother doesn't love him, his father won't believe him and tells him he is making trouble. So no one is hearing his pain. And I think it was the first time that he was able to really express it.

 

Karien:

This girl didn't want to show her drawing. She said it was too upsetting.

 

Woman:

I explained to my friend's teacher I can't explain my drawing. I even went to the police station and reported the case. But nothing has been done about it. I'm scared even to go out in the streets because I'm afraid this person would attack me again and do the same thing to me again.

 

Haley:

A car stopped and a man with a gun approached her and tried to rape her. And she was terrified. And there were a lot of children around her so she was able to run away. And she reported the case and nothing was done. And that's often the case as well where children are confronted by the perpetrators every single day whether it's an incest case in the house or whether they're walking home and have to confront the same men over and over again. And often it leads to multiple rape situation where they never feel safe. And this is a very good example of a little girl who did a self portrait of herself and crossed her heart and had tears coming down her face. And when spoken to in a very containing space, in a very trusting space, she made another image after that which was this one where she was gang raped. And depicted herself as this very almost invisible little girl in the corner. And all these very dominant men around her.

 

 

This example is one of a little girl who only described it as a tree with flowers and the sun. She told us that her grandfather rapes her all the time.

 

Karien:

The Child Protection Unit of Soweto can arrest up to eight suspects on a single, well planned night raid. The cases are rape. And the victims young.

 

Man:

The victim in this case is only seven-years-old.

 

Woman:

It happened about twice, yes.

 

Karien:

She was raped twice?

 

Woman:

Yeah, she was raped twice.

 

Karien:

The CPU's success depends on the victim.

 

Man:

So we have checked around the rooms but she failed to point a suspect. So now we will try again one day to come in, arrest the suspect.

 

Woman:

I'm sure he is here. She just can't point him, you know? It was, it's too many boys in there. I always teach her, you must never take money from the other people. You must never, never listen to somebody, especially a man. Her mother said she is very sick. She's got stomach ache. And I said no, but you must watch her. She's got a bad smell. Why don't you take her to the clinic? She had a terrible smell. She took her to the clinic. The doctor said she was sexually abused.

 

Karien:

In this case, the alleged rapist was the grandfather.

 

Woman:

In fact, this thing was discovered when the social worker revisited the school and the way they told the children about the child abuse. Then the child went to one of the social workers [inaudible].

 

Karien:

Did you tell your grandfather you were going to tell the police?

 

Girl:

Yeah, I told him.

 

Karien:

What did he say?

 

Girl:

He said he would kill me.

 

Karien:

The saddest case was that of a six-year-old who was abducted, raped, and left alone in an open field. She wandered around all night until someone discovered her the next morning. And though she had the courage to take the police back to where it had happened, there was no sign of the perpetrator.

 

Woman:

The police bring her to me. So the way she was looking, she was ... I can't explain it. Oh no.

 

Karien:

It upsets you.

 

Woman:

Yeah, it's so much. So much. I would be so happy if I could find this guy. Oh no. It took my child's life away.

 

Sergeant C:

Okay, my baby. Give me a hug. It's all right, isn't it?

 

 

She's shaking. She is actually shaking. They usually get traumatised. Instead of pointing the suspect others get afraid all together and just point and run away. So that's a problem we're faced with. And unfortunately she has to do that.

 

Karien:

Why?

 

Sergeant C:

Positive identification. Because if we come to a house looking for a suspect, we don't know who the suspect is. We may know the name but we don't know the face. If you get there, we're looking for so and so. And they say, no, such a person does not stay here. But she is there to identify that is the person.

 

Children:

I have the right to say no! I have the right to say no!

 

Sergeant C:

When you say no-

 

Karien:

Sergeant Cybill [Adishu] no longer goes out on raids. After nine emotionally exhausting and very painful years, she talks to the children, hoping to teach them how to protect themselves.

 

Sergeant C:

Usually after the lecture, we always make an invitation that those with problems, they must come forward. You hear pathetic stories. And you can't begin to imagine what's happened to our people? What's happened to our communities? You can't believe such things are happening. And they are.

 

 

When I started touching the breasts and the bums, she shrieked. She was just like that. Why did you do that?

 

Girl:

Because I didn't want you to touch me.

 

Sergeant C:

Wow! Beautiful! She doesn't like to be touched! Wonderful! What are you supposed to say to me when I touch you like that?

 

Girl:

I will say don't touch me.

 

Sergeant C:

Yes. You have to be angry. Show it to me.

 

Girl:

No! Don't touch me!

 

Sergeant C:

Beautiful! Wow!

 

 

What I normally say to these children is that I'm happy that you told the truth. That person is found not guilty in this charge not because the child lied in court. Because we know they have rights to defences that men can go scot free. But deep down he's hurt. He knows he did it. And I always say, one day he is going to meet with his creator where he has to say why did he do that. We won't be there to witness that. I always console myself about that, that who am I to judge? Who am I to judge? I'm just doing my job. That's all.

 

Children:

Don't touch me! Don't touch me! Don't touch me! Don't touch me! This is my body, my body that's mine. [singing]

 

Girl:

Say no!

 

Children:

Say no!

 

Girl:

Say no to child abuse!

 

Children:

No!

 

Girl:

Say no to child abuse!

 

Children:

No! [singing]

 

People:

No excuse for child abuse!

 

Man:

No pain! Keep them in chains!

 

People:

No pain! Keep them in chains!

 

Man:

No pain! Keep them in chains!

 

People:

No pain! Keep them in chains!

 

Woman:

I just cannot believe that you had no idea for three years that your three children were being raped and that their mother has 700 charges of rape against-

 

Man:

Let him answer. Let him answer.

 

Man:

I don't know anything about my children. Because I was divorced.

 

Woman:

How can you have done that to your children! What the hell is wrong with you!

 

Karien:

Do you remember the [inaudible] court case where a mother was accused of renting out her own children as prostitutes? Like the Samantha R. case and a few others, it made headline news and people talked about it for a while. But where are all those children now? Somewhere, someone is making major decisions about their lives.

 

 

This is a second part of a documentary that tries to give children a voice. Ironically, it's not made for children. It's about them. Because it's they who are crying out in an adult world with adult rules for someone to please pay attention.

 

Rene:

[foreign language]

 

Ansie:

[foreign language]

 

Karien:

Ansie was a very troubled little girl when she had this forensic assessment. Her mother had died and she didn't want to live with her father. She was placed in foster care with her mother's sister, Aunt Marie.

 

Aunt Marie:

Ansie was a very, very, very subnormal child. A terrorist child. A horrible child who messed about it in class, who threw desks and chairs around, hit her teachers, who swore in the class, who did all kinds of terrible things. And I started with Ansie with all kinds of therapies and then I took her from one place to the other place, which caused thousands and thousands of rand. Thousands and thousands of rand to try and see can somebody get this child to talk because she would not talk.

 

Rene:

And that stage the teacher said that she as thinking that this child was actually mentally retarded because she couldn't read and she couldn't write.

 

 

[foreign language]

 

Aunt Marie:

Ansie was living with me and then Ansie said that her father told her ugly things. And also every weekend when she went to her father, Ansie had vaginal discharges which a child of six years old don't normally have. Then I discovered she was masturbating, had a pen in her vagina, and all these terrible things which I wasn't used to. "But which daddy told me to do because good little girls have to do it." And that is what made me realise how severely traumatised this child was. And how the humanity in her childhood has been totally taken away from her.

 

Rene:

[foreign language]

 

 

She was really anxious about the fact that she had to talk about the father.

 

 

[foreign language]

 

Ansie:

[foreign language]

 

Rene:

[foreign language]

 

 

And of course the games were structured in such a way that eventually she did talk about him. And at the end she disclosed the information that she was sexually abused over a long period of time in various ways.

 

 

[foreign language]

 

Ansie:

[foreign language]

 

Aunt Marie:

I brought it under the mother's attention and she didn't listen. And she didn't listen because sadly my sister was also raped when she was nine years old. So she committed suicide because she never had therapy. So she could never cope with what happened to her. So what happened to her daughter she could not cope with. And that's why she committed suicide.

 

Rene:

So this is actually very sad because once the mother wasn't there anymore, of course the father had much more time to abuse the child.

 

 

[foreign language]

 

Ansie:

[foreign language]

 

Karien:

She also demonstrated he held his finger there.

 

Rene:

After she showed me the information with the dolls I told her you can do with the doll whatever you would like to do. That was specifically with reference to the father doll. And then there was just this explosion of anger.

 

Ansie:

[foreign language]

 

Rene:

[foreign language]

 

Ansie:

[foreign language]

 

Rene:

I think this was the biggest explosion of anger towards the perpetrator that I've ever seen. After that she said, "He's dead." And then she put him in the dust bin. [foreign language]

 

 

So you could really see that this child had so much pain that she had inhibited all the time. What was interesting was that the teacher found the foster care mother after a while and said the child has changed. She's different. She can read and she can write. She's not mentally retarded.

 

Karien:

Ansie is going on to 10 now and she's been going for therapy regularly. She's doing well in school and she's slowly becoming a happy and balanced child. But she is one of a fortunate few. Most parents can't afford the cost of ongoing therapy. And many don't even realise how important it is. And then there are the abusive parents. Those who are in denial. The prognosis for their children isn't very good. They will most probably grow up to be troubled adults who may or may not seek help one day.

 

Woman:

It's a feeling that you grow up with. So it becomes inside of you. It becomes a part of you. And it affects every area of your life. Every area. Physically, emotionally, mentally, intellectually. Every single area of your life is affected. You can walk away from the perpetrator, but you never walk away from the crime. Never. Or the emotions. Or the bad feelings. They all go with you. So you're drawn ... A lot of women are drawn to men that abuse them. They say you recreate your childhood struggle. You take every woman that is promiscuous and she comes from a sexually abused background I thought because it's a child naturally wants love from its parents. And a lot of women look for it in a sexual manner. Because that is how they got it, you see. That is the only way they got it.

 

Woman:

My marriage was falling apart. I was having an affair, which I shouldn't have had. You're actually looking for the distance. So far that you will end up in extramarital affairs just to get him away from you. Just to make him cross with you. And the moment that you have a fight he is at a distance. Then he's not right next to you. And the intimacy is too much to handle. And you end up in an affair where you're in control. Where you can turn around and walk out and say this is something I'm in control of. I can decide when I'm seeing you. I can decide when I'm not seeing you. And then you go back home and then there is this silent war. And then you know now he's off your body for a while.

 

Woman:

And you are safe.

 

Woman:

And I'm safe. Why? He's not close to me. I'm safe.

 

Woman:

Does it mean you don't love him, you don't want him?

 

Woman:

You want him. But you don't want him physically near.

 

Dr. Follie:

Not only that you don't want intimacy. You do want it. But you want it in a situation where you feel in control.

 

Woman:

Because say before you get married, it's not a have to. But as soon as you get married it's expected from you. Like it's expected when you're small.

 

Woman:

I made my husband's life miserable. And I destroyed my children's relationship with their father for a long time because I was not knowing why or why I was doing this. I had to protect them from their father. If he shouted at them I would interfere. If he corrected them in any way, if he hit them, I would interfere. I was always protecting the kids out of all proportion. I mean there was no reason. He was a good father. But I felt such a strong need to protect them.

 

Dr. Follie:

And authors of books refer to the spouse as being in no man's land. They don't know what to do. Whatever they are doing they are doing wrong.

 

Woman:

So spouses don't know how to handle this. They need as much therapy as somebody else does.

 

Woman:

You know, I love so much but I can't bear him to touch me. Having sex was like having sex with my father. It was like if he was away from me I loved him. But when he was with me I couldn't bear that closeness. I couldn't bear that intimacy. And it started driving me crazy because I couldn't understand why I felt this way. And that got me off to a therapist. And it was then that I realised I had been sexually abused as a child. It was then only that it came out.

 

Karien:

It's a very traumatic experience for adults who repress the abuse to confront the fact and accept themselves. The healing process is long and painful and often very lonely. Our next survivor grew up in a very violent home. Her father was the abuser. And as a child she thought her mother was the one who suffered. In later years her brother committed suicide. And she realised where her own aggressive behaviour came from. Today she blames her mother as much as her father. She confronted both parents in a letter which she delivered personally. And she hasn't heard from them since.

 

Woman:

I read a book called The Courage to Heal. And I realised that when you come from a family like I have, there's denial. And that's what my mother was doing. She didn't protect us. She just stood by watching what was going on. He was violent towards everything and everybody. If we had pets and they got on his nerves he'd simply just shoot them and leave them lying there.

 

 

I was eating breakfast and I saw my dog lying there dead. To this day I can't eat that food. You know. It just reminds me of that. There were other things that were even more horrific even than killing dogs that he used to actually do to them. He had friends who would take advantage of me. And if I complained I got into trouble. So all my life I was protecting myself basically from men. From my father and from friends. And today I'm actually, I'm scared of, I'm scared of men. I have difficulty relating to them. So that's where I am now.

 

Woman:

I felt more upset with my mother than with my father because she was the one that had to protect me.

 

Woman:

Even if she didn't know?

 

Woman:

She had to know.

 

Dr. Follie:

Nearly all adult survivors start thinking where was the parent when I was abused? Why didn't my parent do anything to protect me? Even if the parent didn't know about it.

 

Woman:

I've never known anybody that I can trust. And then I'll meet somebody. I'll love him still but I just can't cope with him around me because I push him away and I fight. My whole life has actually just been a fight. And it's so hard when you, in the thick of things. It's like you're a mental case. And I've had, I've been to psychiatrists. I've been to psychologists. I've been on medication. And just almost nothing helps. It's like such a long road. You know, I'm 42 years old. And I'm such a mess.

 

Woman:

You take the step and you speak to somebody and the first thing they take you to is a minister or a priest. And the first thing he says to you is, "You must be able to forgive. You must be able to pray about this and forget about it." And this is not about forgiving. This is dealing with a day-to-day situation. This has got nothing to do with religion. This is about how to understand things that are happening to you that you don't understand.

 

Woman:

The support group is very important. To meet with other women who feel similarly, who have been through the same process. That is a great part of the healing for me.

 

Woman:

Don't sit back and think it's going to go away because it's not.

 

Woman:

People who have come from backgrounds like mine must realise that there are many, many people who are battling with it. And it's a long journey. You know like if you work at it, it gets better. And for people who are normal, to say to you pull yourself towards yourself, it's not that easy. You can't understand what it feels like. It's as though you're spinning all the time. And you get better when you're ready.

 

Karien:

One mother who wasn't going to turn her back and pretend nothing happened is Cornelia.

 

Cornelia:

My son now is four. When this happened, he was three and a half. It's a nightmare. I've taken it very hard. A lot of people say to me, "How did you not know that your child was being molested for two and a half years?" How was I supposed to know? It's the last thing on my mind. I was asked the question, why did I not check? Two and a half year old boy. He can walk, he can sit, he can go to the toilet, he does everything on his own with a little help from me. And I have to say to him listen, boy, bend over because I need to see if you've been sodomised. Why would I do that? Why on earth would I do that?

 

Karien:

Her son's case was one of several indecent assault cases against the owner of a pre-primary school.

 

Cornelia:

You know how I found out? I read the newspaper one night. And I got to page five. And my world stopped because in this article this man was already arrested six months prior for a case of molesting a boy. And he was supposed to appear in court in the October month. And not one person out there, and this is where CPU is responsible for a lot of agony in this country. They were supposed to phone every parent and warn them. And they should have given me the decision. Do I want to keep him there? Or don't I? They never gave me a choice because for six months my son got hurt six months longer than he should have.

 

 

When I found out about my child, believe me, it took me almost two weeks before I saw one of them. Two weeks! So I sat for two weeks with all my pain. And if it wasn't for that article in that newspaper that particular night, I would never have known. My life would have moved on. And ten years from now all hell would have broken loose because I would have had this terrible teenager and I wouldn't of known what happened to him.

 

Woman:

Childline, good afternoon.

 

Karien:

Cornelia said after having read the article on Friday, she still couldn't get hold of the CPU by Sunday night. She then phoned Childline and discovered that they offered far more than just the voice at the other end of the telephone line. She and her son have been going there for therapy for some time now.

 

Cornelia:

Out of desperation I thought well, let me phone the line at Childhood phone. Because I am so low down on my knees I'm a child. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't have been here today. He can never forget. He will never forget. It will always be there. But he has learned to deal with that anger. He's learned to make peace with the perpetrators. He's learned to get on with life. But without therapy he will not get better. And I've proved that my son from where he was to where we are now are almost two different people already because of the change that has happened to him. Because he's learned to deal with it. Not to forget it. But to deal with it.

 

Karien:

When Cornelia spoke to us, all the other children had either lost or withdrawn their cases. Hers was the only one still standing.

 

Cornelia:

I'm not going to stop here and I will have a big mouth for the rest of my life. But what will happen on the day if he had to walk free, I cannot tell anybody. I cannot comment. But what I can tell you is at the end of the day he will pay, regardless.

 

Karien:

And although she wasn't about to give up, she could understand why other parents did. The courts experience alone, and this can drag on for more than two years, was bad enough, she said, to make anyone give up.

 

Cornelia:

A mother gets told to bring her child to court at eight o'clock. Mother and child arrive. It's a cold place. It's unfriendly. The perpetrator is all over the building. He's got free hand. And then at about half past nine, ten, if you're lucky, by eleven, twelve o'clock they'll say to you, "Now it's your chance." The child is three or four. He's been there since eight o'clock. He's had no freedom. There is no food. There is no drink. And the child is exhausted. And then you say to the three-year-old child or the four-year-old child, "Stand up and tell us what happened." If the child contradicts itself once, he's considered as a liar. Case out of court.

 

Karien:

Why then put your child through the agony of a trial if all he seems to get is punishment for having been abused?

 

Cornelia:

One day when my son is in his 20s or his late teens and he turns around one day and he says to me, you know what, mommy? I can remember that I was sodomised when I was a little boy. Then I want to look my son in the eyes and I want to know that from within me I can look at him and I can tell him I did everything I possibly could at that time. I tried my best. And the more you talk about it, and the more we will talk about it, and the more we will share our faces, and the more we will show our children, there will be no more stigma attached to it. And more people will come forward and say hey, help me. I've been abused.

 

Karien:

Do you remember Ansie, the angry little girl who was fortunate enough to be in therapy? Did you know that her aggressive behaviour towards her father was an act, a lie. Well, the courts said she lied. He was found innocent. And if he is innocent, he would have the right to fetch and raise his daughter, wouldn't he? But what about Ansie?

 

Ansie:

He is guilty because he is horrible.

 

Karien:

Horrible?

 

Ansie:

He's a pig. I feel he's a pig.

 

Karien:

They say he didn't do it.

 

Ansie:

But they're wrong.

 

Karien:

So how do you feel? The court says he didn't do it. Everybody says he didn't do it. They say you lie.

 

Ansie:

They lie. They are lying because he did do it.

 

Aunt Marie:

After three years of court cases it's not guilty. Well now she's been to therapists, psychologists, social workers, play therapists, all these people and I think she was molested but the court doesn't listen to you. Nobody listens to the child. The child has got no human rights. None whatsoever.

 

Karien:

Why are they not listening to you?

 

Ansie:

Because I'm not bleeding. That's why. And because they don't believe me. I think it's not right.

 

Karien:

But why must I believe you?

 

Ansie:

Because you must help me and other people.

 

Aunt Marie:

She's not physically bleeding now. But mentally she will bleed forever.

 

Karien:

If you had the chance to speak to another little girl like you, what would you tell her?

 

Ansie:

I would tell her she must also speak because you must help other people. You must help yourself and you must help the other children.

 

Karien:

But you spoke and it didn't help. So why must someone speak?

 

Ansie:

Maybe they will they listen to her. Maybe she bleed.

 

Aunt Marie:

Nobody listens. There is no law in this country protecting a child. If a child is bleeding because it's been raped, yes. Then they will listen. But if the child is not bleeding, nobody but nobody will listen.

 

Karien:

Ansie knows her mother died. But she doesn't know how or why. The suicide letter was disregarded by the court because it wasn't a legal document.

 

Aunt Marie:

In the letter she apologises that she [inaudible]. The laws [inaudible] it must have been just after she took her overdose of tablets. She wrote I would like for my sister to have the children and not their father. He is a child molester. And I would like Ansie to have a chance in life. Please try to see that this is my last and final wish.

 

 

What I want to know now, is Ansie going the same way as my sister? And if she goes back to her father, what is going to happen to her?

 

Rene:

It seems to me the main problem was the fact that somebody has witnessed that this child at some stage ran after the father, grabbed him around the leg and was quite lovable towards him. Now, the child denied this specific incident. But there was a professional person who witnessed this information and actually confirmed this in court.

 

Aunt Marie:

Ansie saw her father five months after her mother died. So if you really don't understand, yes, maybe she was happy to see him. Yes.

 

Rene:

Most of the children that we see had been sexually abused over a long period of time and there was a very, very long grooming period whereby the perpetrator was actually grooming the child and keeping the child emotionally involved with them. It's kind of a seesaw feeling. Sometimes the child feels good about the perpetrator. Sometimes the child really hates the perpetrator.

 

Ansie:

[foreign language]

 

Aunt Marie:

I believe that the day he touched that child in that way, the day he raped her soul and her body, that day he gave up his right to be a father.

 

 

I wish the law would listen! I wish the law would listen to children! And other people in the same situation would speak up. Then maybe we've got a chance to get somewhere. Maybe.

 

Karien:

Nowadays, children are supposed to testify in a separate room through an intermediary and closed circuit television. This is to keep the child away from the harshness of a courtroom situation. But since it remains up to the magistrate to decide whether or not a child would suffer undo emotional and mental stress, many children still wind up having to testify in court.

 

Woman:

How long does a court case take? And how long does it usually take before the court case starts?

 

Woman:

It can take a couple of months. But after the case starts it can take anything up to two, three years.

 

Woman:

Oh gosh.

 

Woman:

It's a long, long process.

 

Karien:

There are ad hoc work preparation programmes for children such as at the Teddy Bear Clinic and the one at the Zamokuhle Clinic in Soweto.

 

Woman:

That man that hurt you may say that this did not happen. And he may say that you both are telling a lie.

 

Karien:

Ironically, one of the girls had already been to court before coming here.

 

Woman:

[inaudible]

 

Karien:

Did she see them at the court?

 

Harnisha Nathoo:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). She did.

 

Karien:

How many children really have the privilege of knowing what to expect when going to court?

 

Harnisha Nathoo:

Usually it's the ones that I've seen in therapy that come. But there's a lot of children that I don't see that go to court unprepared.

 

Dr. Karen M:

For me, cross examination is the most important problem. That together with rules of evidence. We have the cautionary rule. This rule says that when a child gives evidence, the courts have to be wary of that evidence for a number of reasons. Children tend to lie. Children tend to fantasise. Children don't remember. That while there are a whole lot of subcategories, research has shown that the rule is not based in true findings. Children, there is no evidence that children fantasise about sexual abuse at all.

 

Rene:

The child is being cross questioned by a defence attorney who has only got one thing in mind and that is to help the perpetrator. The types of questions that is being posed to the child is totally unfair questions. Though the intermediary is present, she can't change the types of questions. They don't really understand the child's cognitive functioning. They don't really understand the child's emotions.

 

Dr. Karen M:

But it's a physical thing. The left half and right half of your brain only finally joins when you're ten. And you need to be able to have the join in order to evaluate. So very often in court, and I've looked at a lot of the transcripts, when you ask a child why, sometimes they talk nonsense or they make up something because they're afraid they to answer. But they don't actually know.

 

Cornelia:

I testified and I said you know, on Wednesday morning we were having, we were playing and my son came to me and said to me you know what, Mommy? I got sodomised. And that's it. Now they ask the child which morning did you tell mommy you got sodomised? Now I'm asking you. My son is four. Yesterday is today. Tomorrow could be an hour ago.

 

Dr. Karen M:

They cannot hop from what happened in the middle and then but on the previous day didn't you do this? And then you go back to tomorrow. They become completely confused. And they will give you the incorrect answers. Not because they're lying. But because you've confused them and they don't quite follow. Cross examination hops around.

 

Cornelia:

Now if I had said Wednesday morning at 10 o'clock and he says last week, what time boy? Afternoon. Out of court. Because he contradicted himself. My word, his word. There's no truth in it. So he comes the caution thing in.

 

Dr. Karen M:

The psychological research has shown that children do lie. But they lie in certain circumstances. They lie when they have to protect somebody. So they will probably lie to hide things. They'll not lie to get people into trouble.

 

Karien:

A countless number of children in places of safety are there simply because they spoke out about their abuse. Would they have lied? They're the ones that got into trouble.

 

Luke:

I have an example of a child who I did a court preparation programme with. And she disclosed they removed her from the family, put her in a place of safety, arrested the perpetrator, he's out on bail. Her question to me was how come I'm locked up and he is free?

 

Girl:

[foreign language]

 

Karien:

This little girl was raped by her mother's boyfriend. And while he is living with her mother, she's in a place of safety.

 

Girl:

[foreign language]

 

Lynette M.:

[foreign language]

 

Girl:

[foreign language]

 

Lynette M.:

[foreign language]

 

Girl:

[foreign language]

 

Lynette M.:

[foreign language]

 

Girl:

[foreign language]

 

Luke:

What message are we sending the children? We're telling them it's not your fault. You did nothing wrong. But at the end of the day they feel punished because they're in an institution where there are 50 other children and they live in dorms and they've been taken out of their communities. They're not with their friends anymore. They've had to change schools. They're often in different suburbs. Often in different parts of the country.

 

Woman:

At this time [inaudible]. If you don't remove them the community and the psychologist and the schools, they blame you that you're not doing your work.

 

Woman:

Most of the kids in here are doing a secondary abuse on them.

 

Luke:

If we have to introduce child protection which is removing children and protecting those children from a situation our aim is family reunification. And I think what we need to be doing is we need to be working together because you must remember the children can be involved in a whole lot of systems at the same time. And that's what makes it very complicated.

 

Woman:

Maybe we're supportive in this room because this is an example. But in real life we put pressure on one and another, especially the social worker.

 

Luke:

Very often we are the wounded healers. We are the people who have our own pain and our own wounds. And our way of actually dealing with it is helping other people. So instead of going out and hurting other people, we go out and we try and mend. When the aim of my entire life has to be, been to minimise other people's pain. And very often that is because I feel a very deep pain myself.

 

Karien:

Childline has a safe house project in which ordinary people can get involved. They offer their homes to children in crisis situations where there has to be intervene for the sake of the child. It's also an effort to prevent children from being dumped in institutions.

 

Gail J.:

You know, normally the stork brings the babies. Here, the Child Protection Unit does. When I read about the project it made so much sense that someone or the police or welfare can phone me and I'm here for that child when I'm needed.

 

Karien:

It's not an easy task, taking care of other people's children. Especially if they've been traumatised and have behavioural problems. To those involved it's a calling.

 

Mathilda T.:

They said it last year, October I think. Yeah. October.

 

Fraser T.:

Another thing is when we are surrounded with the community, actually I would say a lost generation, one needs to stop talking and do something at a community level.

 

Mathilda T.:

So most of our parents, they don't understand that. They believe a child is a child who must listen to an adult. If I say take off your pant and lie there, the child must do exactly that, you know? So gradually we are also empowering and teaching parents that all of our basically our human rights that must be respected. As much as the children, they have their rights. And those rights have to be respected.

 

Fraser T.:

Because we know that children, they don't need to be undermined. And children must be taken serious.

 

Boy:

Mothers and fathers and children, I want to tell you about Chance. Chance is a place of safety. We live so nice-

 

Karien:

This 12-year-old boy is reading a letter he wrote himself. He hasn't been going to school for very long because until recently, before he got removed from home and placed in Chance, he wasn't allowed to go to school. His stepfather who also stands accused of physically abusing him said he didn't have the money. His mother, out of sheer desperation, contacted a social worker for help. And in an effort to keep the family together, they were given therapy. This failed and the child was removed.

 

Sophia C.:

It's hours and hours that you've got to spend with a family. The child gets assessed. Then at times when things are very violent, you've got to make an intervention. And that's time consuming. And the same person doing the family therapy has also got to attend to the crises that's reported to her on a daily basis. So it's difficult for the social worker to manage it all.

 

Karien:

How would you react to that if I say to you, you're physically abusing your child.

 

Man:

I would totally disagree because [inaudible] beat him to feel that it is wrong, what he is doing.

 

Karien:

How do you see it?

 

Woman:

I don't agree with him.

 

Karien:

You don't agree with him?

 

Woman:

Yes.

 

Karien:

Explain?

 

Woman:

Because the way he used to treat him. A small mistake he will take him. He'll hit you. He'll give you hiding. He'll make it even worse now. Now even to my [inaudible] my son was getting worse now because even that hiding made him to be immune. He didn't feel the pain of the hiding.

 

Boy:

When I'm naughty just give me a hiding. The belt on my hands. But when he has drank, he's drunk, just beating me with everything, what he wants.

 

Karien:

Like what?

 

Boy:

Belt, bottles, blades, everything. Threw me down on the ground. Left me outside. Took my clothes. I must go outside. Took my clothes off. Flushed my toys in the toilet.

 

Woman:

I found the pain being the mother. So I have to stand up for my son. On top of that, he never went to school. Now we've got two sons. The other son is going to school. The other one is not going to school. To me, it was not a surprise for my son to be naughty. There are so many ways I can help my son. So let me consult the social workers for them to help my son to go to school.

 

Karien:

Your mother loves you very much. You know that? Did she tell you why you were coming to Chance?

 

Boy:

No.

 

Karien:

Do you know why you are here?

 

Boy:

Yeah. I thought because my father is beating me.

 

Man:

It was a way of disciplining which I preliminary started. But now similarly didn't give a help.

 

Boy:

I want to learn. I want to be a soldier. If I grow up, to be a doctor. Everything. And the day I come back there to home I want just to live the way I lived life. Nice like at Chance.

 

Rene:

My feeling is that whenever the alleged perpetrator is willing to acknowledge what they've done, then you can send them for therapy. And once they have therapy, I will agree on that the child goes back and with therapy. But the problem is children are being put back with the perpetrator who denies that they've ever done anything to the child. And I can't give therapy to a person who doesn't have a problem.

 

Boy:

That is how life must be. Good respect and good living. At Chance, I live at Chance too.

 

Karien:

At Wynberg Court in Cape Town we came across a system that seems to be working, and working well. It's one of the courts in a pilot project started three years ago. Here, everything is done to prevent children from experiencing secondary trauma while going through the criminal justice system. With its special waiting room, it's the exact opposite of what happens in so many other court situations.

 

Woman:

We'll be in a separate room. She will have to testify. You will explain to me the way you explained to me today. You'll explain to the aunt who is going to be with you in the room, okay? Is that fine?

 

Karien:

[Afesse Adean] is one of two prosecutors who chose to be assigned to a courtroom that specialises in sexual abuse cases.

 

Woman:

Also, if you can, you can bring a drink or whatever because sometimes this type of case can take the whole day.

 

Karien:

While the other prosecutor is in court, she has time to gain her clients' trust.

 

Woman:

We have the facility that everyone is very patient. So if she feels she doesn't want to talk, we break.

 

Mandy April:

And you probably wondered why I called Jodie a survivor.

 

Karien:

There's also a full time social worker to support the child through the whole court process.

 

Mandy April:

Victims are the ones who don't make it. Who died. Jodie has survived it. She has survived sexual assault. And that is empowering in itself. You can write down the exact impact the abuse has had on you. And the court will listen. And the court will then use that. Okay? When it comes to sentencing.

 

Karien:

This court has a conviction rate of 68% which is very high when compared to some courts with a conviction rate for cases involving children can be as low as 18%. One of the more recent cases involved a primary school teacher who was also a moderator of a church. He was found guilty for having raped one of his primary school pupils.

 

Woman:

I was I would say like everybody very reluctant to make a case because of all the things happening. The perpetrator gets scot free and the way they treat the victim. But I can tell you this. They were wonderful at Wynberg. And the first day she was supposed to give evidence, she just broke down and she couldn't went on further. And there's a doctor there. And they gave her some tablets. And afterwards she could have continued with the evidence. They don't force her and nobody was upset with her. They were very, very helpful and even the magistrate were very patient with her.

 

Karien:

The prosecutor of this case now serves on a task team that is working on expanding the Wynberg sexual offences court on a national basis. That's the good part. The bad part lies in a very crude and pornographic letter this teacher had written to other pupils four years earlier.

 

 

In court, he said it was for educational purposes. But in the letter, he told the girls to watch what he does with his willy under his desk. And offered to give them practical lessons in sex after school. His words were sickening.

 

Lynette M.:

The letter came to the attention of the school at the time. And because he's such a kind person and such a good man, it was sort of regarded as a bit of a slip up. He was sent for some therapy. And that was the end of it. Nothing was ever said or reported about the whole incident.

 

Karien:

Well, obviously the therapy didn't help, did it?

 

Lynette M.:

No. Four years later we have a young child who is indecently assaulted and raped by him.

 

Woman:

I want to tell parents she was lucky that we stood by her. And we showed her lots of love, the whole family. And you know the saddest part, there's still people in this world that doesn't believe the child! But I can tell you the perpetrators are very good. They are very good. As long as the people are afraid or as long as the people is not reporting cases like this, there will be rapists and abusers. She is still a virgin. Because she didn't give permission stricken away from her. Because I believe whether you're an adult or whether you are still a child, if you didn't give consent it was taken away from you.

 

Mandy April:

If we keep quiet about this it is not the survivor that you're protecting. You're not protecting them at all. You're actually protecting the perpetrator. Because he gets away with it. And he just goes ahead and moves onto the next victim.

 

Cornelia:

Why are we called the most aggressive people in the world? Why have we got so many problems in this country? I'll tell you why. Because if you start looking and you start peeling away, you'll find that there are so many abused people in this country especially that never got help. Because it was a stigma. It was a terrible thing. Let's not talk about it. Let's hide it. Because you know it will go away on its own. Well, it doesn't go away. It stays with you until the day you die.

 

Jody's Mother:

At the end the child is going to suffer if you're going to keep it secret. [inaudible] know about it. [inaudible] know about it. Why if God already knows about it. And that's why I'm a survivor and I'm proud to be a survivor.

 

Woman:

You came out. You were brave enough to come out and speak about it. You broke the silence. And it is really challenging to me as a social worker.

 

Karien:

This was a masters training workshop for teachers, social workers, and the CPU on the management of child sexual abuse. Here, young teenagers from a survivor support group humbled a few adults by helping them to understand what it felt like for them to be labelled by society.

 

Woman:

Not happy.

 

Woman:

I feel dirty.

 

Man:

I feel no longer a man.

 

Woman:

That's how we feel.

 

Woman:

This other social worker, she asked me what did they, how did the guy rape you? And you must show to me. I mean, I couldn't show her in front of the court. How did the guy rape me. I couldn't even show her alone.

 

Woman:

The social worker after told her, "You don't look raped." What does a raped ... What does that look like? You don't look raped. Yes.

 

Woman:

You know, I always thought I was the only one that this was happening to. And I met the girls and the group and all that in July. So now they can relate my feelings when I'm down. They say I've been there. And like just to know that they're there is like a lot.

 

Woman:

I told and nothing was done about it. I spoke to the principal and then I had to speak to the guidance teacher. I mean, they sent some social workers to my house. And she told my dad. And then after that it was like nothing had ever happened. And it hurt because the more I was trying to talk, the more no one was listening. At least now I've got someone to talk to. I've got a lovely support group. A peer group. And I'm just glad that they're there because they're always there no matter what.

 

Woman:

I feel as a social worker that ... Wait. Wait. That the social worker she's talking about, I may have been like that because when we go to court and when we work with children we're not in touch with their feelings. So this experience, it has empowered me and I feel I'm going to understand better how they feel. That was tough.

 

 

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