Leilani Kuter has spent 27 years with a secret, but now she is sharing it in the hopes that other rape and GBV survivors will feel less alone.
Pretoria, South Africa – Leilani Kuter (45) from Roodepoort, Gauteng was brutally raped and left for dead when she was only 18 years old.
Now precisely 27 years later, Leilani is speaking out about her ordeal, to shine a spotlight on survival and empower young women affected by sexual assault and gender-based violence (GBV). You can read her full story here.
According to The Crime Against Women in South Africa Report by Statistics SA, only one in every nine rape cases are reported, and of those, only 4% result in prosecution. Unfortunately for Leilani, these statistics tell her story. Like so many survivors, her case was never solved.
Leilani was a young woman trying to find her place in the world and through a traumatic event, was forced to find strength in her vulnerability. She made a conscious decision to survive, to be a victor, not a victim
“I had no choice but to pick myself up and move on. I was alone in a big city, with no one to rely on but myself. When I realized that the act of rape is about power and not sex, I made a conscious decision to regain control over my life and give myself the respect that was stripped from me. It’s been 27 years, but I still make that decision every day” – says Leilani
Until now, Leilani’s story has in many ways, been a private ‘family secret’. In speaking publicly about her ordeal, she hopes to empower other survivors, to speak out and free themselves from the stigma rape carries.
On the 16th of September, the 27th anniversary of her rape ordeal, Leilani began a 27-day journey, totalling 729km, starting in Pretoria and ending with the Ruimsig park-run in Roodepoort on the 12th of October.
“I plan to walk 27km a day for 27 days in defiance of systemic violence against women and in celebration of our collective survival. I will be wearing yellow, the colour the perpetrator wore when he attacked my spirit. With my BackaBuddy campaign, I hope to honour young women like Uyinene Mrwetyana, Jesse Hess, Leighandre Jegels, Lynette Volschenk and Meghan Cremer who lost their lives due to senseless acts of violence. I also want to honour the women whose stories we haven’t heard and the names we don’t know” – says Leilani
With her campaign launched on donations based crowdfunding platform, BackaBuddy, Leilani hopes to raise funds to purchase emergency comfort packs at R200 to be given to young girls when they report sexual assault and go through the process of telling their stories.
Additional funds will be used to help as many women as possible who need rehabilitation and counselling.
“I think back to the day I reported my rape, the lengthy process of having to recount the most traumatic experience of my life, the invasive medical examination, how cold and impersonal it all felt. With these packs and counselling sessions, I hope to restore some dignity to women and girls who are brave enough to come forward and report their ordeal.” – says Leilani
The campaign went live on 14th of August with a fundraising target of R 100 000.00. Since the campaign went, live, Leilani has raised a whopping R220,904.49.
“I hope my BackaBuddy campaign will encourage as many young women as possible who have been raped or have been victims of sexual assault to speak out and be heard. With a case number you are taking back some of your power from the perpetrator and God willing putting them behind bars” – says Leilani
Funds raised for the comfort kits and counselling sessions will go directly to the supplier. You can donate to Leilani’s fund here.