Thabo: My Story, 21 Years Old

Thabo* went to prison when he was just 21 years old and was repeatedly raped during the decade he spent behind bars. Thabo attempted suicide but was not successful, unlike three other inmates he knew who were raped then took their own lives. Experiencing serious trauma and shame, Thabo struggles to interact with people. He says he came back from prison with a lesson and an illness (HIV). The biggest weight he has carried is that nobody in his family knows what happened to him. He urges youth to stay away from crime so that “unlike me, you can reach your dreams”.

These stories were produced by Sonke Gender Justice, Just Detention International – SA, and NICRO, with funding from the Open Society Foundation for South Africa, the MAC AIDS Fund of the Tides Foundation, and the Ford Foundation. Thanks to Community Media for Development and Digital Storytelling South Africa for creating and editing the stories. Most of all, thank you to these courageous survivors.

*Not his real name

Learn More

Sonke works with many communities to use storytelling and digital media to help people tell their own stories around gender, violence, HIV and AIDS and related issues.

Sonke partnered with Silence Speaks to enable young people and adults affected by violence and HIV and AIDS to share their stories. Other digital stories have been produced with former prisoners who experienced sexual violence in jail. And the MenEngage African Youth Alliance and Sonke partnered with UNFPA to produce “Youth Stories of Change” along with a discussion guide and other resources.

Through intensive, participatory video production workshops, Sonke is bringing rarely-heard voices and images into the civic arena. Our hope is that by highlighting everyday stories, we will deepen existing conversations about gender norms and health issues, as well as empower the storytellers and their communities.

Download Resources

Click here to download a facilitator’s guide, discussion guides and other Digital Stories resources to assist in the use of these tools in your community.