Message Brief

Key messages as identified by research to inform development of the script

series5_messagebriefpic022.jpgSouth Africa is reportedly the ‘‘rape capital’’ of the world. According to the Crime Information Management Centre of the South African Police Services, 52 160 cases of rape were reported in 1997.

This reflects an increase of 10 000 cases since 1994. Unfortunately, according to POWA (People Opposed to Women Abuse) these alarming figures are only 2.8% of rapes that occur in South Africa annually. If 52 000 reported rape cases reflect only 2.8% of actual rapes, it means that actually more than one million rapes take place in South Africa annually.

Underlying Rape Messages

  • Women have a right to be respected.
  • Men can benefit from the empowerment of women.
  • There is no culture that supports or supported the oppression of women.

Key Rape Messages

  • There is no excuse for rape.
  • Any form of coerced sex is rape.
  • Clothes do not cause men to rape –– a rapist will rape a two- year old or a 90-year old.
  • Real men respect women and their right to say no to sex. They can control their sexual urges.
  • Men who rape/coerce women into sex do so to hide their own weaknesses.
  • Rape is a traumatic experience that affects all members of the family/community.
  • Show effects of rape on the survivor
  • Show effects of rape on the male relations of the survivor
  • Show effects of rape on the community
  • Sex is more enjoyable if both partners consent to it.
  • Sex without force is fun.
  • Men can enjoy sex if their partners tell them what they want.
  • Good relationships are more than sex
  • Good relationships are about sharing common interests, dreams and aspirations.
  • Partners can learn how to enjoy each others company without sex.
  • Communities can do something to break the silence about rape
  • Good communities take care of each other
  • Healthy communities take care of their women and children.

Which angle should Soul City take regarding rape?

There is a belief that was expressed by members of the focus groups that rape only happens in black communities.

We need to dispel this myth.

Communities define rape as "stranger rape."

The series needs to show rape happening in intimate relationships or where the perpetrator is known to the survivor.

Rape & The Police

Why are most rapes not reported to the police? There are a number of factors that contribute to the low levels of cases reported to the police.

The stigmatisation of rape

Rape is one of the most traumatic experiences anyone can go through. Coupled with the natural reaction of blaming oneself for not "seeing it coming" or preventing it from happening, society is quick to judge the character of a rape survivor and find every reason possible for blaming the survivor. For this reason most survivors prefer not to tell anyone about what happened to them.

The attitudes of the police

Although there are efforts to train police to be gender sensitive, there are countless reports of police insensitivity when a woman reports a rape case. Many police further traumatise the survivor with questions such as “Did you enjoy it?” or just by the indifferent way in which they deal with rape cases.

There are also widespread reports of police corruption and a widely held perception that in some cases police collude with perpetrators. This is hardly surprising taking into consideration reports of women who get raped by the police.

Survivor unfriendly services

According to a study conducted by the Centre for Peace Action, 54.8% of women wait up to 3 hours before being examined by a district surgeon.

In 10.9l% of the cases, women wait for 7 hours or more. These long periods of waiting further traumatise the survivor and contribute to their reluctance to continue with the case. The report also indicates that in Johannesburg, most cases were reported at police stations with immediate access to medico-legal services as well trained and sensitive personnel. It is therefore evident that in cases where services are not available or women have to wait long hours, there will be a reluctance to report the case.

A rape survivor needs a lot of support to deal with the ordeal. Apart from legal services, survivors require psychological and medical support. The fact that these services are not located in one central place, means that a survivor will need to travel to various places to obtain help. This adds to the trauma they have experienced and a reluctant to follow through with the case.

The judicial system is not any help to rape survivors either. Apart from having to relive the ordeal, they are usually subjected to the worst humiliating cross-examination. Many survivors feel that perpetrators receive light sentences or are acquitted because the courts do not treat rape as serious an offence as hijacking, for example.

'Rape Surveillance through district surgeon offices in Johannesburg, 1996-1998: Evaluation and Prevention Implications’

The perpetrator

Many rapes occur within relationships or with the perpetrator known to the survivor. This places enormous pressure on the survivor not to the report the case. Firstly, the perpetrator may threaten the survivor if she reported the case. In the case of the rape happening within a relationship the situation is even more complex. The woman may want to report the case but the police may not believe her, claiming that it is a "family matter."

Research proves that women have difficulty in defining being forced to have sex within a relationship as rape because they are socialised into believing that it is their duty to have sex with their partners.

What Is The Community Telling Us?

In order to inform Soul City of which messages to deal with regarding rape, the research department conducted focus group discussions with various communities. The purpose of the focus groups was to determine what the target population beliefs and attitudes were regarding rape. Soul City wanted to determine what audiences believed caused rape and what the possible solutions would be.

The focus groups revealed that there are a lot of rape incidents happening in communities. This seems to support research that suggests that the number of reported cases are a tip of the iceberg. Although communities agree that there are a lot of rape incidents that occur in their communities, they also offer excuses for why rape occurs.

This probably explains why communities are silent about rape and, except for when a small child has been raped, there is hardly any community outcry about rape.

The silence of the community also illustrates the complex factors that influence people’s attitudes regarding rape. The focus groups revealed a lot of contradictions regarding communities beliefs about rape. The excuses for rape given by both male and female participants seemed to outweigh whether or not they believed rape was wrong and that something needed to be done about it.


  • Rape is about a lack of respect for women
    Communities are aware that rape is wrong. They know that it is a criminal offence. However, within a context in which men believe they own women they feel justified in their actions. Like any property that they own, they may be aware that they are misusing it but don’t see the need to stop.
  • Rape is about power. Women’’s rights scare men
    Women were also targets of gang rape if they are perceived to be aloof. This suggests women who are outspoken, assertive and in control of their lives. Men rape them to show them their place. Men and women blamed women’s rights and political freedom for the rise of rape within their communities. They spoke about the past with nostalgia, claiming that previously rape did not occur because men practised poligamy and women didn’t behave like whites.
  • Men and women lack skills to communicate about sex in relationships
    Men and women feel sex is a duty. There is no communication about sex. This creates fertile ground for rape to occur in relationships. It also shows the challenge in expecting women to negotiate for safe sex within relationships.
  • Rape is about instant gratification and entitlement
    The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation claim that in their experience working with survivors and perpetrators of rape, there seems to be an emerging pattern of an entitlement to instant gratification and release of sexual energies. It seems to be an explanation of why the age of rape survivors is dropping and why many cases of fathers sleeping with their own daughters are on the rise. The report claims that youth who have raped claim that they did so out of boredom. The fact that they may have raped a six- year old does not bother them. It seems women and children fall prey to this sense of instant pleasure and gratification that blinds men to realising that what they are doing is wrong. A man who had raped his daughter claimed that he felt like sex and since his wife was at a night vigil he was entitled to the daughter. There seems to be a total lack of self-control in such cases. The participants in the focus groups referred to this lack of a sense of right and wrong as ill wind that is blowing within the communities. Women expressed this by saying that their men have turned into real dogs.
  • Rape happens within a context of lawlessness and corruption
    In a study conducted by Rhodes University with rape convicts, 84% of felony rapists had prior convictions. The study defines felony rapists who operate alone or in a gang. They usually come from disrupted or broken families and exhibit early patterns of delinquency. The study also shows that they show little remorse for their actions. Participants also claim that police collude with perpetrators. Some claim that a perpetrator only needs R1000 for the police to destroy a rape docket.

AIDS Messages

  1. AIDS is a chronic disease like any other.
    The best things in life are free – People with AIDS need compassion and acceptance.
    People with AIDS need to be treated with dignity in life and in death.
  2. You won’t know that you are HIV negative until you are tested.
    Anyone can be infected with the HIV virus.
    You cannot tell by looking at someone whether he/she is positive or not.
  3. Knowledge is strength.
    There are benefits for testing for HIV. Refusing to find out won’t take the disease away if you already have it.
    Knowing your status means that you can seek care earlier, change your life style and delay the onset of disease
    Ignorance leads to discrimination. Learn about AIDS, talk about it and support those who are infected
    There is a difference between someone who is HIV positive and someone with full blown AIDS
  4. Responsible partners support each other, protect each other and care for each other.
    Real men are faithful to their partners
    Everyone is responsible for him/herself – never put yourself at risk
    Condoms are fun and safe
    Men can take care of women when they are sick.
  5. Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu.
    We all need each other to fight the AIDS epidemic
    Unity is strength
    People who care for the sick need support and care.

Disclosing that you are living with HIV/AIDS

  1. You can benefit from disclosing to someone that you are living with AIDS.
    A shared load is a lighter load.
    Someone can help you deal with your anxieties and hopes and fears
    You can access support and care
    You don't have to live in fear of someone finding out and informing your family
  2. Your children and family will benefit from knowing that you are living with AIDS
    Children cope better with the loss of their parent if they are prepared for it
    You can make arrangements about your children's future while you are fit to do so.
    You can help your family to deal with attitudes they may encounter within the community
  3. Disclosure is a process
    It may be useful to teach your family all the facts about AIDS before you tell them that you are infected
    You do not have to disclose to everyone at once. You have the right to tell only those that are close to you and ask them to keep it confidential. This is called shared confidentiality.
    There is a range of responses to disclosure. Allow and help your family to deal with your disclosure.
  4. Opportunistic diseases are curable and should be treated. People with AID'S tend to suffer from the following diseases :
    Pneumonia and TB
  5. Good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle will help you delay the onset of AIDS.
    Healthy eating doesn't have to be expensive
    Alcohol and smoking can lead to the onset of disease
    Exercise is good for your mind and body.
  6. Death is difficult but there are ways to deal positively with it
    It is normal to feel sad, angry and hopeless but these feelings can make you physically sick.
    You can learn basic coping skills like talking about how you feel.
    You can participate in a lot of activities that you really like to take your mind off your illness.
    You can rely on traditional and spiritual means of support
  7. There is no cure for AIDS
    There are a lot of remedies available for sale on the pretext that they cure AIDS. They may be able to relieve some of the symptoms but there is no known drug to cure AIDS.
    Beware of charlatans who offer bogus treatment at exorbitant prices.
    Do not abandon practices such as safer sex and good nutrition, even if you feel better.


  1. It is normal to feel like you cannot cope – even angels need angels
    Caring for someone who is sick is not easy. Make sure you have someone who supports you.
    You can rely on traditional and spiritual means of support.
  2. Everyone can learn basic skills to help you care for someone who is ill.
    Men are capable of care-giving.
    You can learn basic skills to prevent accidental infection.
    People who are ill go through different emotions. They can be happy and positive and suddenly become sad and angry. You can learn basic counselling skills like listening, and empathy to help you deal with their emotions.
    You can learn which foods to prepare for people who are ill.
  3. Death is difficult but there are ways of dealing positively with it.
    Death is not an easy subject to talk about. But it is also not useful to pretend that everything is fine.
    Allow and encourage the person who is ill to talk about how they feel.
    Focus on the positive.
    Give lots of hugs.
    Seek counselling and support even after bereavement. You have been involved with someone who is sick. You may have been strong for them when they were alive but may feel very vulnerable when they have died

Disability Messages

The messages on the television and radio series will mainly aim at raising awareness about disability to the general public. They are aimed at making disability visible and putting it on the public agenda. Therefore, most of the messages for the drama series (radio and television) will be attitudinal messages. The booklet will deal with knowledge messages in detail.  

  1. People with disabilities are human like everybody else.
  2. People with disabilities have the same rights as everybody else.
    They have the right to live full and productive lives
    They have the right to be treated equally
    They have the right to protection
  3. They also have the same needs as everybody else.
    They need to love and to be loved
    They need to be respected
    They need to be valued
  4. People have impairments, the environment disables them. People have physical impairments. The environment they live in causes their disability. For example:
    Structural barriers prevent people with physical or sensory impairments to live independent lives
    The attitudes of the community prevents people with impairments from living productive lives
    Poverty further disables people with disabilities.
    Therefore a "cure" for disability is the restructuring of society’s view about disability. For example:
    Planning for public structures should consider the needs of people with disabilities
    The general public should be aware of how their own attitudes affect people with disabilities
    Non – disabled people should not speak for people with disabilities
    People with disabilities have a valuable contribution to make and should be included in decision – making processes within their communities
  5. People with disabilities have different needs, aspirations and capabilities too
    People with disabilities are not a homogenous group defined by their condition. They are people with attributes that are influenced by their values, beliefs and social environment.
    People with disabilities can have relationships, on all levels, with whomever they choose.
  6. People with disabilities can be productive in society
    People with disabilities should not be portrayed as victims.
    Many of them have achieved great things against all odds.
    They should be given an opportunity to make a positive contribution to society.
  7. Everybody has a disability
    Each individual needs to come to terms with who they are.
    Everyone needs to have a positive self – image.
    The series needs to show the process that people with disabilities go through to be proud of who they are.

Disability Myths

Lack of information and ignorance leads to myths about disabilities. The following are myths, what causes them and how they can be dispelled.  

  1. Myth:
    Physically disabled people are also mentally disabled.
    Normality is a social construct. Due to lack of information about disability, communities tend to perceive people with disabilities as not normal. In addition, wheelchairs portray vulnerability to the general public. Therefore, people with physical disabilities are perceived as mentally disabled.
    Portray people with physical disabilities as independent and self-sustainable with capabilities to achieve their full potential if they are given a chance to do so.
  2. Myth:
    Disabled people are a-sexual.
    The media has promoted a particular image of sexual acceptance that is not necessarily a reality. People with disabilities are another category of people who do not fit this image.
    Deconstruct the myth by portraying a person with a disability in a stable and loving relationship
  3. Myth:
    Disability is a punishment for stealing, witchcraft or a result of a woman having abortions.
    This is also caused by people's perception of what is normal. Due to ignorance they construct their own ideas of what causes disability.
    The booklet will be the best vehicle to say that this is not true. However, the staff at the clinic can be useful to dispel this myth.

Small Business Messages

  • Young women can be their own tickets to better lives
  • Women are as capable as men and can be successful at running businesses
  • Men and women can start businesses in fields that challenge their traditional roles
  • Stolen goods cost money and lives

The following messages were dealt with in Series Four. It is very important to reinforce them in this series:

  • It is important to find a mentor to help you with your business plan
  • Saving is good to help you build a credit record
  • Entreprenuership is a positive life option
  • You can make a business of something you enjoy doing

New Small Business

The emerging/survivalist sector

  1. Good planning is the recipe for success:
    1. Generate more than one idea for a business
    2. Research your market
    3. Aim to be different from others in the same business as the one you are planning
  2. Saving is good to help you build a credit record
  3. Beware of get rich quick schemes

Existing Small Business

  1. A good entrepreneur continuously adds value to his/her business
    Planning is still important for an existing business
    It is important to evaluate how one’s business is doing and to make necessary changes
    Advertising and marketing your business is very important
  2. It is better to invest in one’s business than to spend one’s money on luxury items
    A good savings record makes it easy for one to obtain a loan if one needs it
    One can grow one’s business by investing in it
    Having one’s own business is a risky business –– it is important to save for rainy days
    Have separate budgets for yourself and your family
    Pay yourself a realistic salary
  3. Fair competition is good for one’s business
    The more there is competition, the more one can be creative in attracting customers
    Customers appreciate a business person who does not intimidate them to support him/her
    You may work together to start a business so that you offer services that can complement each other
  4. Saving is good to help you build a credit record
    Beware of get rich quick schemes
  5. Customers are a business strong asset
    Customers can make or break a business
    Customers have the right to complain if they are not happy
    The secret of a good business lies in satisfying its customers
  6. The general public
    Local businesses build the economy of our communities
    You have the right to complain if you are not happy with any service from a business
    Stolen goods cost money and lives.
    Theft affects us all
  7. Entreprenuership is a positive life option
    You have more control with what you want to do
    All the hard work you put in is for your own benefit
    You can make a business of something you enjoy
    The future is in the hands of those who work hard for themselves
    Crime does not pay
  8. You can learn a lot and gain experience by working as a volunteer for someone who has already started his/her business
    Education is not the only tool needed to start one’s business. Experience is also very valuable.


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