With horrifying cases of rapes or sexual assault against children being reported daily, four women from a non-profit organisation (NPO) called ThinkTwice have embarked on a journey to educate children about sexual assault and how to avoid and report it.
Visiting rural pre-schools in the Vhembe district, the women use a teddy bear to show children parts of the body where others should not touch them. This daily routine has already uncovered several cases of sexual assault, often by someone who is supposed to them.
“The teddy bear is used to demonstrate the various forms of sexual abuse. When a child indicates they are being abused, we refer the cases to the Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Programme (TVEP),” says Sharon Bugana, ThinkTwice team leader in Vhembe.
Threats and bribes
As with many cases of sexual abuse, Bugana says children often do not speak up because they have been convinced by the abuser that it is “normal”, or they believe they have done something to deserve the abuse. There are also bribes and threats involved, which results in deep fear.