Fighting Abuse One Stitch at a Time
UKZN’s fourth year nursing students and the Marianridge community donated 103 teddy bears for rape victims to the Thuthuzela Care Centre at Durban’s RK Khan Hospital. The Teddy Bear Knitting project aims to fight abuse “one stitch at a time” by providing knitted teddy bears to child rape victims. Organisers believe teddy bears will comfort women and children who are suffering.
The bears were handed to Pastor Jane Curle of His Church who will send them to the centre where they will form part of the comfort kit given to rape victims. Curle accepted the bears on behalf of the Centre and the Church. She said every life the bears touched would provide healing and comfort. Out of 100 reported cases a day, 90 of the victims were children between the ages of three-months and 18 years old.
‘We hope these bears will be able to provide hope, love and joy.’Ms Charlotte Engelbrecht of UKZN’s School of Nursing and Public Health came up with the idea to donate teddy bears. She pitched the idea to the local church and UKZN’s fourth-year students who then made it happen.
Ms Kate Anderson of the local Happy Day Club for the Elderly said the old folk met once a week to knit the bears. Most club members are aged from 60 years upwards and have been part of the Club for years. They joined the Teddy Bear Knitting project two months ago and have made more than 100 bears.
‘The elderly love the hand work, it gives them more purpose in life,’ she added. A woman from the church who was almost raped, Ms Diann Bazly, said being part of the project had healed her old wounds.
‘I found meaning in making these bears. I was nearly raped by a person known to my family when I was 11-years-old. I never completely recovered from that ordeal - it only happened once I started working with the teddy bear knitting intervention.’
Warrant Officer Joseph Sthebe said women and child abuse were rife in the Marianridge area. ‘The area is ravaged by alcohol and drug abuse,’ he said, citing this abuse as the main cause of women and child abuse. ‘Most rape victims are attacked at night by those leaving shebeens or taverns.’
Regarding child rape, Sthebe said many of the incidents took place at homes at the hands of a family member or relative. This was why so many child abuse cases were not reported. He encouraged the community to speak up and never to allow economic factors to force them into silence.
Sthebe said abuse cases were a priority to all police members. ‘We have a 24-hour office at RK Khan Hospital which is where we process all rape cases and assist rape victims with whatever help they require.’ Police in the area were working with the Liquor Board to shut down illegal shebeens and to make sure the licensed ones keep to the regulations.
- Nombuso Dlamini