Her rape ‘lesson’ just taught her to be strong

2011-08-06 17:35

The group of men who raped her wanted to teach her a lesson: they thought she was snobbish because she did not want to date them because she appeared on TV and spoke on radio.

Not long after the incident in Orange Farm, Johannesburg, for which the men were sentenced to life in prison, Lerato Mohayi picked herself up and refocused on her career.

She defied her attackers – just as she had defied those who had said she was tjatjarag, loud and would never make her matric.

The 22-year-old who drives the loveLife Make Your Move campaign, says the rape was not the first time she had been  abused.

The man she thought was her father (she later found out that he wasn’t) was also verbally and physically abusive.

At 15, Mohayi joined the HIV- prevention initiative loveLife where she soon became part of the national youth volunteer ­service as a groundbreaker.

“I feel if I hadn’t done that, I would probably be one of those girls who didn’t finish school or is sitting at home with babies and nothing to do.”

She has travelled all over South Africa, has worked with the United Nations and presented her life story at a conference in Vienna last year.

Although she believes young women have better opportunities these days, she says some things haven’t changed.

“It’s still risky because women have to deal with a whole lot of things like abuse, self-esteem ­issues and problems at home.

“But it’s pretty awesome and ­inspiring to be young in South ­Africa today,” she says.

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