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'I SUPPORT WAR' CHARITY EVENT 4 OCT

In a country where a person is raped every 23 seconds it vetseunis a comfort to know that there are musicians who are prepared to take a stand and play for this cause. Piet Botha, Mel Botes, Beeskraal and Radio Suid-Afrika are all playing at the Steak 'n Ale on 4 October 2007 with all proceeds being donated to WAR (Woman Against Rape). WAR was founded by Janine Rowley in 2000.

Janine Rowley began her adult life as a Versace and Armani model in Italy. After matriculating in South Africa, she moved to Europe where she was discovered by a Italian photographer. After being offered a contract by Versace she stayed in Italy for twenty years enjoying a career in both modelling and clothing design. On a modelling assignment in Miami, Janine was brutally attacked in a parking lot but was rescued by a complete stranger. This experience increased her understanding of the devastating effects of rape. When Janine moved back to South Africa seven years ago to tend to her frail mother, she joined the internationally renowned Inner Wheel Club of which she was elected as Chairlady in 2007.

Janine has worked selflessly to establish Trauma Centres in various police stations. Since 2000 Janine has been delivering "comfort parcels" to police stations. These include basic toiletries as well as comforting items such as a teddy and some sweets. "Rape is the worst thing that can happen to a person...they are left feeling totally worthless." Janine believes that the parcel contents respond to the dejected emotions of a rape victim "by giving them the opportunity to get cleaned up and something to cuddle."

Janine's cellphone is never off, just in case she receives a call from the various police stations where WAR operates. Janine assists rape victims by supplying a counsellor and arranging for medical treatment, sometimes with WAR carrying the costs. Janine has further initiated a beading project which has been found to be therapeutic; she describes how "the ladies are so traumatised that it helps to keep their hands and minds busy." While she sells her own beaded jewellery to fund her organisation, she has found that "it makes their day when people buy the stuff they've made. Additionally, abused women are able to use these new skills to generate an income, "and break the bond where victims are at the mercy of their abusers, who are often also their providers.

While the jewellery and donations may bring in some income for WAR, it often isn't enough. Janine never refuses help to an individual even if it has to come out of her own pocket. Janine's selfless attitude coupled to her perseverance, has earned her the prestigious Paul Harris Award for those who go beyond their means. While Janine would prefer a constant income, she has learned to live by faith; no permanent career would allow her to drop everything and rush to a police station. Janine never takes a holiday at the end of the year as this is unfortunately the time when rape statistics drastically increase. Janine Rowley has become the rising star for rape victims in their darkest hour, threading hope into their lives one bead at a time.

Adrian V. Erasmus : WAR PRO



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