A Johannesburg-based rape survivor has completed a 729km walk to raise awareness about rape 27 years after her ordeal.
Leilani Kuter, 45, was raped on September 16, 1992.
Walking 27km for 27 days, she started her initiative on September 16 and finished on Saturday, October 12.
Breaking her silence after 27 years, she came up with the idea to start a dialogue aimed at empowering other women, men and children and freeing them from the stigma rape carries.
During her walks, she wore a yellow T-shirt – the same colour her attacker wore on the day that her life changed forever.
Her campaign was launched on the donation-based crowdfunding platform, BackaBuddy, on August 14 and since then, the campaign has raised R237,110 after contributions were received from 109 donors.
The funds will be used to buy emergency comfort packs that will be given to young girls after they report sexual assault cases. Other funds will be used to assist women in need of rehabilitation and counselling.
Speaking to News24 on Friday, Kuter said her journey in the various provinces was rewarding because she got to engage with different people she shared her story with. She also heard their stories.
“Some of the roads were tough because they were not always paved for me and the traffic to walk. The other day I was walking in the rain and it was all about commitment to [a cause] this big. It felt good when people shared their stories with me,” Kuter said.
The challenge covered four provinces.
More than 300 people, some rape survivors themselves, participated in the walks with her.
Kuter said there wasn’t a day when she felt like she didn’t want to wake up and walk.
There were times when she felt like quitting but after reading some motivational texts on social media, she got up and finished.
She said the fact that she was walking for a good cause – to raise awareness against the brutal crime that is a growing concern in South Africa – kept her going.
One of her highlights was on Day 22 in Nelspruit when prefects from Hoërskool Bergvlam and Lowveld High School joined the walk, and many people from the town came out to support her.
Her last 27km walk was at Ruimsig parkrun in Roodepoort on Sunday, October 12 where she was joined by other people from 4am.
“It was great to see how people were wearing yellow [T-shirts] for rape survivors. There were people whom I have known for many years who asked why I had not spoken about my story, but I said it wasn’t something I wanted to talk to people about back then.
“My ankles are very sore, but I feel fantastic, finally reaching the finish line. I learned so much about myself on this journey: I am tougher than I think and that I need to nurture my fighting spirit,” said Kuter.
The target which Kuter set out to raise was R270,000. Kuter said she did not expect the amount she received so far.
She said she would like to be a part of an initiative that would set a curriculum in which children would be taught, from a young age, about the consequences of gender-based violence.
The rape survivor said she was now writing a book on gender-based violence which she hoped would be used in high schools because she feels it would educate the youth.
In addition, she is working on a documentary titled Born To an Audience which will be about her life story and about her 729km walk.