exploring the concerns of the South african jewish community
Rozanne Sack and Wendy Hendler, co-founders of Koleinu SA, write about the challenges of confronting sexual abuse against males in the South African Jewish community.
Koleinu SA spotlights male sexual abuse in the Jewish community
David*, a member of the Johannesburg Jewish community, is a survivor of early childhood sexual abuse. He is one of very few men to come forward and report his abuse to Koleinu SA. For victims of sexual abuse, especially those from smaller communities such as ours, where the perpetrator is usually well known to the victim and an active member of the community, reporting sexual abuse is inhibited by both fear and shame.
Founded in 2012, Koleinu SA was established as a helpline for victims of abuse in the South African Jewish Community. It has since grown to become an advocacy and training organisation in the areas of gender-based violence (GBV) and child sexual abuse. Although Koleinu SA’s helpline has taken hundreds of calls over the past eight years, the vast majority have been from women. Not because GBV and sexual abuse does not happen to men and boys in the Jewish community. Rather, because of the compounded shame and humiliation that male victims experience. We have some understanding of the huge barriers that women and girls have to overcome in order to come forward. For males it is doubly difficult. Most will suffer lifelong consequences and carry their secret to the grave.