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Bo-Kaap: It’ll always be painful to me that others were hurt, says sexual abuse victim

About 200 women, men and children gathered on the corner of Wale and Bree streets on Thursday. Picture: Shakirah Thebus/Cape Argus

About 200 women, men and children gathered on the corner of Wale and Bree streets on Thursday. Picture: Shakirah Thebus/Cape Argus

Published Oct 27, 2020

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Cape Town – The Bo-Kaap community are urging those affected by sexual abuse to speak up in order to break the cycle.

This after five women spoke out againste sexual assault on them by two prominent Bo-Kaap men, both former educators and principals.

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The allegations were brought to light after a woman shared that her grandfather had sexually assaulted her from the age of 5 until she was 11. Since then, four more women have added their accounts anonymously.

It was not the first time the women had spoken about the abuse and had confided in close family members during their early teens (now in their late 20s, 30s and early 60s) but said it had fallen on deaf ears or they were silenced by the brothers’ highly regarded status within the community.

The woman in the now widely circulated video, said having other women come forward and share their stories, produced a mix of emotions.

“On one hand I feel strength through that kind of solidarity but on the other hand it’s painful, it’ll always be painful to me that others were hurt. But I’m so proud of them for taking this step, for their healing.”

Women’s Legal Centre director Sehaam Samaai said the WLC doors will remain open should these women need any legal advice.

“We are massively concerned about the women who has come forward and those who have been molested and abused and want to make decisions within a safe environment.”

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Samaai said they’ve set up processes to ensure any woman who comes forward will feel safe.

During his Friday sermon, “Swept under the Rug”, Boorhaanol Islam Mosque Imam, Sheikh Muhammad West referred to, “Our collective shame”– rampant gender-based violence (GBV), sexual and physical assault.

West urged women to come forward and said if perpetrators of such heinous crimes are not taken to task, these acts would continue unabated.

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“We have too many instances in the community where crimes of this nature are swept under the rug so as to ‘save face’ or because it is inconvenient, thereby perpetuating the harm (for decades in some cases).

West said: “We have not created an environment safe enough for survivors to come forward.

“It is our collective responsibility to help support those survivors to come forward, even if the predator is someone close to us.”

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Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers association chairperson Osman Shabodien said any survivor who wants to come forward can contact the warrant officer in charge of investigating claims of assault against the two brothers.

Warrant officer Rowan Andrews can be contacted on 021 590 1001 or 082 729 8155.

Cape Argus

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