Madagascar: Uniting Against Sexual Violence Through Sports

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In the verdant hills encircling Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo, tomorrow marks the fourth edition of the “Run and Bike – Stop Rape” event. Far more than mere competition, this sporting endeavor stands as a resounding protest against the pervasive issue of sexual violence, with 400 participants poised to stride, pedal, and sprint in solidarity with victims.

Led by Florentine Razanajafy, founder of the Tao association and the event’s organizer, the message resonating from this gathering transcends distance. “It’s inconceivable that six children, at minimum, are violated each day in our country,” she laments.

“Equally alarming is the fact that 80% of perpetrators roam free, shielded by the complicity of silenced families. In a nation where justice often eludes victims, this event serves as a beacon of support. It signals to our children that change is imminent and that we stand as guardians, ready to protect.”

Regardless of the distance covered tomorrow—be it two kilometers, ten, or twenty—what truly matters is the resonance of the message carried by participants.

“All proceeds from registrations will be channeled back to the Tao association,” Razanajafy affirms, “fueling our advocacy and outreach programs in schools, aimed at raising awareness on sexual violence and providing support to victims.”

Their advocacy extends beyond victim support, aspiring to rehabilitate even the perpetrators themselves. “We advocate for comprehensive care,” she explains. “We aim to create a nurturing environment for all children, including those who have committed such heinous acts. Studies suggest that many of these children were once victims themselves. Hence, our objective is to provide avenues for their rehabilitation, encompassing legal, psychological, and medical support. Regrettably, dedicated centers for rape victims, equipped to provide such comprehensive care, are still lacking in Madagascar.”

Even as Madagascar recently sanctioned surgical castration for perpetrators of child rape, organizations like Tao underscore that the true imperative lies elsewhere.

As the sun sets on the eve of this event, the hills of Antananarivo stand witness to more than a race; they bear testament to a community united in its resolve to combat sexual violence. In the footfalls and the whir of wheels, there echoes a collective determination—a promise to safeguard the vulnerable and to rebuild shattered lives.

Soukaina Sghir

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