The Handbag Project
Durbanite Jes Foord became a heroine to many South Africans when she showed courage and selflessness by establishing The Jes Foord Foundation (JFF), following her traumatic rape by four men in 2008.
One of her initiatives is the Handbag Project. New or used handbags are donated, containing items that can assist a rape victim during the initial reporting process at the police station. These are things such as a facecloth, soap, deodorant spray, new underwear, etc. Typically, any item of clothing with forensic evidence on it must be taken from the rape victim, at a time she already feels so vulnerable. She then must undergo physical examination before being allowed to shower. A handbag with ‘comfort’ items in it can go a long way in helping the victim feel a little better. The most important item in the bag however, is a letter with a few words of encouragement to restore some hope to the victim during this traumatic time. Jes said it can be a few words or an essay but something from your heart to theirs i.e.
“No matter what has happened you are special, and please don’t let anyone take that away from you. You can, and will, get through this. There are so many people who really care and will help you gain your strength. This gift is given to you with love from Louise”.
When you are at your lowest, just receiving the bag with all the goodies, a simple gift that can give you hope which is a fundamental step in recovery.
Jes is therefore asking for good condition handbags i.e. one you no longer use or one you may have received as a gift but will never use. Not only ladies handbags, but children’s and men’s backpacks are also needed, as it is not only women that are raped. Each handbag received will be packed with the items on the list set out below. Obviously it would be greatly appreciated if you could hand in a bag with a few items, but an empty handbag is of great help as well. Should you wish to donate a bulk of certain items and not individual bags, you are most welcome to do so.
For children (they actually require two bags – a rape bag and a court bag).
Please also refer to the lists below for the requirements for these two bags.
Panties (small, med or large)
Soap (liquid or bar)
Shampoo (small or decanted)
Small soft toy
Note – words of comfort/care
Bag – to place the above items in
No used items please.
Body lotion (small)
KIDDI PACK (RAPE BAG)
A4 sized fabric drawstring bag
Surgical Gloves (protection from infection)
Panties/underpants (to replace soiled panties)
Pack of Tissues or wet wipes (to clean up AFTER Medico-legal examination (No tubs please)
Soap and facecloth
Sanitary pad (for vaginal and anal bleeding)
Brown paper bags (for soiled panties and other items with DNA evidence)
Notebook (Art therapy, to assist in forensic evidence gathering)
Blue ball point pen
Permanent marker (laundry marker-to mark abuse on bears)
Plasters for explaining and identifying abuse on bear. (This bear is provided by the Teddy Bear Clinic)
Snacks – Chips /sweets/dried fruit
Teddy – for child to keep and provide comfort
Sweets biscuits dried fruit
Permanent marker & plasters
Pen blue or black ball point
Colouring in book
Tissues Or wet-wipes
(Packs please, not tubs)
FOR INFORMATION ON “THE HANDBAG PROJECT” OPERATING NEAREST TO YOU, CALL AT YOUR LOCAL PROVINCIAL HOSPITAL, OR CLOSEST OPERATING NGO / VICTIM EMPOWERMENT AND SUPPORT CENTRE, GENERALLY CO-ORDINATED VIA THE POLICE STATION OR INQUIRE AT THE COURTS.
Financial donations are also most welcome. Click here to find out how you can donate to the Jes Foord Foundation.
“You have taken my body, and you are NOT taking the rest of my life”.
21 year-old Jes Foord became a heroine to many in South Africa when she established The Jes Foord Foundation (JFF) following her traumatic gang rape by four men. Jes’s story is both moving and inspirational. Her courage and strength of purpose in the face of a horrific crime has resulted in something truly good coming out of something very bad.
On a hot Sunday afternoon in March 2008, Jes and her father Tim went to Shongweni Dam to walk their dogs at one of Kwa-Zulu Natal’s more peaceful beauty spots. They were surprised by a group of men who beat and tied Tim up before forcing him to watch the brutal gang rape of his daughter.
Jes’s life was changed forever. Having suffered a crime that reportedly takes place in South Africa every 17 seconds, she realised that she had a choice: to let it destroy her, or to become a rape survivor. She remembers thinking:
“You have taken my body, and you are NOT taking the rest of my life”.
From this point Jes decided to speak out rather than hide away in shame. She chose to transform her appallingly negative experience into a positive one by establishing The Jes Foord Foundation. “I formed the Foundation to help restore lives after rape by way of a number of initiatives and activities designed to change rape victims into rape survivors. I want to educate people and help them realise that there is life after rape.” says Jes.
Now aged 26, Jes works full time The Foundation. She gives motivational talks to schools and organisations, and improves education about rape among men and boys, as well as women and girls. Her ultimate goal is to set up special care centres for survivors where they can get all the medical, psychological and legal attention they need under one roof. “It will be a safe, comforting, clean environment staffed with highly trained, supportive people which is not always the case at present.” she says.
The Jes Foord Foundation relies on donations from companies and individuals who have the urge to bring hope to hundreds of people going through the harrowing aftermath of rape. When you give of your time or money to the Jes Foord Foundation, you are not only helping us to educate people about the very real problems of rape but you are also helping to revolutionise the way rape victims are treated, a revolution that is long overdue if they are to become rape survivors. You help them regain something priceless, their dignity and self-esteem.
If you have just been raped:
Firstly take any evidence you might have from the rape, this could be underwear, weapon, anything that the rapist touched, that could have blood, semen or DNA evidence on.
Do not shower or clean yourself in any way, your body is the crime scene and by washing you will be clearing away evidence.
Tell somebody, a friend, parent, teacher, caregiver, someone you trust who can take you to a hospital/ clinic.
Go to your nearest hospital/clinic; on arrival tell them that you have been raped.
The doctor/ district surgeon will then do what is called a rape kit. This is to do with collecting DNA evidence for the police to find and prosecute the offender.
At the hospital you will receive all your medication needed, this is your ARVs and PEPs, this medication must be accessed within 72 hours. You cannot receive this medication after 72 hours and run the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS.
Once the medication part is taken care of, the police can either be called to the hospital or you can go to your local (area) police station.
At the police station you will give your statement and open up a case, the police will give you an evidence bag for any clothes or objects you had from the rape.
The police will then use your evidence and evidence gathered by the rape kit to find and prosecute the offender.
It is important to speak out about your rape, it is the only way you will receive help. The next step after all the above has been done is to seek counselling, in order to start healing on the inside. The Jes Foord Foundation offers free counselling, to the rape survivor as well as affected family members. To book an appointment contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0(27)31 765 4559.