The Barefoot Campaign. Let’s celebrate rape survivors.

By: Anele Gcwabe

Some people find jobs, and they proceed to make an income, provide for their families, and think little or nothing of the people they work with or around. Even though it does not feed their soul. The world and movies have made us believe that feeding the soul is the most important thing on earth- I am starting to buy into the idea. But that one is a story for another day.  Some people discover a new passion in the quest to create an income for themselves. Very few people discover something to stand for while on the job. Allow me to introduce you to Tremaine Marianna Barnes, a 29 year old, 2019 Activator who has found a purpose in speaking out and being a voice for women and children who have been raped and sexually abused.

In 2016, while doing the weekly rape statistics for the Duduzela Care Center that she was an intern for, Tremaine realised that multiple women and children are being raped and abused, in South Africa, every single day. Before that, she knew about it. But, she did not realise just how bad it was or that it was such a common occurrence. A few months later, while pursuing her passion for writing music and singing, Tremaine still could not silence the news. She listened to a lot of radio at the time, which makes me think that she found another passion. On the radio, Tremaine heard a lot of news about people being sexually abused, but she was not hearing a lot of voices speaking up against the rape, assault and abuse of women. This little, but significant act of silence frustrated Tremaine to an extent that she committed herself to speaking out against rape and sexual abuse at every opportunity that she got.

The campaign started in December of 2016. Her inspiration was her country. South Africa is among the countries with the highest incidents of rape and sexual abuse in the world. And even though sexual violence is so common in our communities, it is something most people don’t want to talk about and the silence surrounding it allows for it to continue happening.

The Barefoot Campaign is aimed at creating rape and sexual abuse awareness and giving support to survivors of rape and sexual abuse. “When we bring awareness and show support to survivors, we physically walk or run barefoot to acknowledge that even though being barefoot can be uncomfortable and painful at times, there’s absolutely nothing that can compare to the physical, emotional and psychological pain that survivors of rape and sexual abuse experience”, explains Tremaine.

”We don’t only acknowledge survivors’ pain, we celebrate survivors’ strength as well, reminding survivors that they’ve overcome something that had the potential to destroy them. We say that rape and sexual abuse does not define them. They are strong, beautiful and worthy of the best life has to offer despite what was done to them”, she continues.

Tremaine Marianna Barnes is the founder and project manager of the campaign. Their beneficiaries are survivors of rape and sexual abuse. Her local partners are Women to Women- a Kimberley based NGO focused on Women’s empowerment and #Run4her- a Pretoria based sexual violence awareness campaign.

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