For singer Shekhinah, the #blamenomore campaign is something that’s had significant meaning for her. Picture: Supplied

South Africa’s culture of victim blaming when it comes to rape is something that needs to be addressed. It’s a scourge that haunts victims of sexual assault, with many choosing not to report their cases to the police. The result is a silence that becomes unbearable.

A new campaign, initiated by Hype Magazine and Tears Foundation, aims to change the narrative for sexual abuse victims.

#BlameNoMore is a call for change and an opportunity for South Africans to change their attitudes, change the conversation, reach out, create safe spaces, become better listeners and be pillars of support.

We have a problem when it comes to victim shaming, toxic masculinity and the dis-empowerment of women having agency over their bodies.

Exhibit 1: The stats don’t lie.

Only one in four rapes in South Africa are reported to the SAPS. Official stats recorded 40 035 rapes in 2017/18 - a significant increase from 2016/17.

Exhibit 2: It is never the victim’s fault.

“The truth is powerfully simple. Rape is never a victim’s fault,” said Rudzani Netshiheni, editor of Hype Magazine.

“It’s time to create an environment where people can express themselves in any way they choose, without feeling like they are inviting a crime. It’s time to empower victims with the confidence and support to stand up, stand together and be heard,” echoed Mara Glennie, founder of Tears Foundation.

WATCH: #BlameNoMore: A call for change:

To reach the masses, Hype has partnered with local hip hop artists, including Boity Thulo and Shekhinah to start conversations, change misconceptions and empower victims to speak out.

For Shekhinah, the campaign is something that’s had significant meaning for her.

Why did you decide to be part of the #BlameNoMore campaign?

I think most people know that sexual violence is a massive problem in South Africa, but I don’t think we like to talk about it. I think, as a society, we’re very uncomfortable with the topic when really we shouldn’t be. 

I see this campaign as a way to start those difficult conversations, and to really address the reality of what’s going on right now in our country. It’s not just the perpetrators who create a rape culture. It’s anyone who makes a victim feel like they could have avoided the situation, or like it was in any way their fault.

What are your thoughts on the harrowing rape statistics in South Africa?

We’re almost becoming immune or desensitised to the statistics because they’re so horrific and they’re in the media all the time. What statistics don’t do is give us the human side of the problem. What about the real stories and people and tragedies behind the numbers?

Why do you think South Africa is struggling so much with sexual crimes?

I think we have a very patriarchal society. I think that breeds a culture where men can feel very entitled. Men don’t call out other men enough.

What role do you think musicians such as yourself can play in shining a light on violent crime and sexual violence?

I really feel like artists are so influential because they are so public. We play a massive part in creating norms and setting trends. So why wouldn’t we use that influence for good, whenever we have the chance. What role do you think the hip hop industry plays in terms of promoting toxic masculinity and the objectification of women?

As a hip hop culture, I think it’s time for guys to maybe start honouring women in their music videos, or put them on a pedestal or treat them like a mom. I wouldn’t have males doing a lot of that stuff that in my space or in a video, because that’s not how I see men.

Why do you think people should get involved in the #BlameNoMore campaign?

We can all play our part. We can all change the conversation. I hope that it just becomes the norm to support victims instead of telling them what they did wrong.

Follow the #BlameNoMore hashtag on social media