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GBV knocking on the front door of FS Rise: One member's journey of life, our lesson #16DaysOfActivism

The most frequent challenges which the average young women are facing in life is the high rate of teenage pregnancy, alcohol and drug abuse and finding themselves trapped inside “Blesser” webs without really being aware of the long-term consequences of their impulsive choices and behaviour.

Young Women often tend to go to parties and taverns, drink more alcohol than their bodies can handle and sadly end up as sexual assault victims being taken advantage of by men. 

Decisions one takes today often leads to results one will get tomorrow. 22 October 2016 was no different than other days… girls going out to have fun…the big difference is however – this time around the victim was someone we knew and loved.

Lerato Siyo (20) was a young woman who grew up in Dewetsdorp, Free State. When Rise Young Women’s started in 2014, Lerato was amongst one of the young women who become interested to participate in the programme. She was elected as the Chairperson of Young Successful Ladies by her club members. She was doing Grade 10 at Metsimaphodi School.

Peer pressure is a challenge that any young individual is facing, some more than others due to various factors.

On the evening of 22 October 2016 Lerato and her friends decided to go out partying at Bergman Square in Bloemfontein. Like in many cases where girls will are being bought drinks by males, this happened to her and her friends and the fun begun.

We all know that investments usually tend to come with interests/benefits, these specific males wanted to rip what they saw. Lerato refused to go with them. They tried to rape her but she fought back, resulting in them stabbing her and killing her. Her friends managed to run away. Few days passed by – out of fear none of her friends who went out with her did anything about Lerato’s disappearance. One of her close friends became worried and went to Police Station to report the incident. The police followed up on the report and found her body.

For some time now Lerato did not attend Rise meetings any more. The Rise clubs at Metsimaphodi School however took a decision that they will emotionally support the nuclear family wherever possible.

This was indeed a sad day for all Rise members, not only in the Dewetsdorp area, but also nationally - a young life taken in the prime of her life and in a manner nobody deserves to die. Lerato’s fatal experience underlines the seriousness of rage and Gender Based Violence and lack of support for female victims of violence all over again.  Especially in a time where many Rise members are in the preparation phase before they, together with thousands of other South Africans join 16 Days of Activism Campaigns in support for No Violence against Women and Children as from 25 November until 10 December 2016.

Whoever did this we hope that justice will take its turn soon and that they will be arrested. Soul City, Free State Office is planning behaviour change and bereavement workshops in order to provide support to the remaining members of Rise.

Please contact the FS Soul City Provincial office in your region if you need more information on Domestic Violence or Abuse or call the Hotline numbers below: Help is only a phone call away.

Other important numbers:
Stop Gender Based Violence
0800 150 150
ChildLine
0800 055 555
SAPS Crime Stop
08600 10111

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