Alison Botha's remarkable, heroic story is the inspiration behind #butterflyrevolution, writes Theresa Smith
Television viewers and fans of video clips may already have noticed a series of 15-second clips popping up on their screens – all of well-known people pledging to join the #butterflyrevolution.
Spearheaded by film-maker Uga Carlini, the #butterflyrevolution is a campaign about ending violence against women and children, which started on Monday at the start of Women’s Month as she prepares to release the documentary Alison.
The feature, which will be released on the local circuit on August 12, documents how Alison Botha not only survived a horrific assault and sexual attack in 1994, but became the hero she needed to be.
Raped and left for dead, she refused to give her attackers the satisfaction of destroying her life and not only survived, but found the inner strength to triumph over intense physical and emotional trauma.
While Alison has been approached many times to make a movie of her experience, she agreed to Carlini’s request because she believes their hearts are in the same place.
“Maybe it was also that I have more to say now, not just about that night. There is life after the attack, and no, it is not easy, but people need to hear and see that, yes, a thing happened to me, but there is other stuff that also happens in life. It’s not all about the huge trauma and… we can be our own hero,” Alison said.
The butterfly motif has always had a special meaning for her, which is why it appeared on her book, I Have Life.
“I have always used it to show that when we go through difficulty we are like the chrysalis that comes out better on the other side.
“There is hope in crises. That’s not to say look at it as being okay, but as ‘I will be better’. So to me, the butterfly is hope, it is a symbol that says we can triumph and be better through adversity,” says Alison.
She knows the documentary is not a mainstream offering meant for entertainment, but she hopes attention around the #butterflyrevolution will make people curious to watch the inspirational feature.
Carlini says she chose the butterfly motif for the campaign partly because of Alison, but also because of the idea of The Butterfly Effect – that small causes lead to big effects.
The director has been hosting pre-screenings of the documentary and says it is tough going when audience members approach her afterwards to confide that they, too, experienced rape.
“They just want to tell someone, and maybe they will never talk about it again. Maybe there are many people who don’t have the courage to say anything, (but) there are just so many people among us carrying this pain.
“So, for me, this movie and this campaign, it’s just to honour women and say ‘thank you for getting up’ and to the good guys ‘thank you for saying something’.
“We must remember to say thank you to the people who are trying to do something about violence against women,” says Carlini.
The idea for the #butterflyrevolution originated with her, partly inspired by the controversial 1999 Charlize Theron “Real men don’t rape” campaign.
Through the campaign, Carlini is trying to inspire an individual challenge to end violence against women and children.
“It is something I feel very strongly about outside the Alison movie, which just happens to be another way I can add my voice,” she says.
“As a bigger picture, or maybe a smaller picture effect, I have made this film. Alison the person is a big inspiration to me and she is the inspiration behind the butterfly revolution.
“But I am a mom of two boys and on the personal pledge side I want to raise the kind of men I feel the world needs more of.”
Alison says her personal pledge is also about raising her own sons to be positive examples of how to treat women.
The aim is “to go to people and say let’s stop pointing fingers at everyone around us. Take charge of the situation that is clearly affecting us and ask what are we going to do about it'?” says Carlini.
“Remember the ice bucket challenge? What was interesting about that was how they did it. We also use the famous people, because they have the big fan bases. They are the pioneers, challenging the public, nominating their fans.”
The campaign begins with 19 ambassadors’ clips going out on YouTube and screening on TV channels, at Nu Metro cinemas, Discovery TLC and others.
They include Afrikaans rapper Jack Parow, radio personality and actress Elana Africa, Top Billing presenter Roxy Burger and Origami artist Ross Symmons, who created the butterfly that comes to life in the clips.
Symmons believes strongly that small acts of kindness and compassion can create a ripple effect of positivity and well-being.
His pledge is to care for and be more aware of those around him in need of love.
The idea that a small cause can have a big effect is not just an abstract idea to him: “I needed help folding 1 000 origami birds.
“I reached out to a friend who teaches underprivileged children to fold origami. She got a group of kids to help fold the birds for some pocket money. One child folded more than 300 birds.
“The money he made was able to feed himself and his unemployed mother for the week,” said Symmons.
How it works
Write your pledge on a piece of paper, take a photo of yourself with the pledge and post it to Facebook and challenge your friends.
Or go to the alisonthemovie.com website, opt for blogs and butterflies and get all the information on #butterflyrevolution. Also post a video clip, or do a voicenote on Twitter and Snapchat, but no matter how you opt to send your pledge out into space, just remember the hashtag and you’ll be good to go.
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thebutterflyrevolution/ / @thebutterflyrevolution
Butterflyrevolution video channel: youtube
Twitter: https://twitter.com/thebutterflyR / #Butterflyrevolution