• A female resident of Ikhaya Loxolo begins a morning school lesson … Most of the mentally disabled and mentally ill women here have been raped (VOA/ D. Taylor)
  • One of the home’s caregivers helps patients to harvest vegetables for the day’s meals (VOA/Taylor)
  • “They call this place ‘hell’s garden,’” says Zwelisithile Bendlela, a local traditional healer (VOA/Taylor)
  • The home’s director, Alex Gunther, gives instructions to caregivers and patients as the day’s harvest begins on Ikhaya Loxolo’s farm (VOA/Taylor)
  • In Hobeni, like in other parts of South Africa, criminals target disabled women and girls for rape (VOA/Taylor)
  • One of Ikhaya Loxolo’s female residents feeds chickens in the home’s dining hall (VOA/Taylor)
  • The Xhosa chief of Hobeni, Patrick Fudumele, is doing his best to protect the area’s mentally disabled women and girls from sexual abuse (VOA/Taylor)
  • The home’s residents are particularly fond of Alex’s husband, Michael, who manages Ikhaya Loxolo’s farm (VOA/Taylor)
  • Alex Gunther says all mentally disabled and mentally ill people deserve love and dignity (VOA/Taylor)
  • Community elder Mama ka Blondie [left] and Alex Gunther prepare to serve lunch at Ikhaya Loxolo (VOA/Taylor)
  • Alex and Michael Gunther gaze over their land in Hobeni in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province (VOA/Taylor)
  • Alex Gunther picks herbs in the home’s garden (VOA/Taylor)

Mentally Ill Girls at Risk of Rape in South Africa

Darren Taylor

Published July 04, 2013

In a district in South Africa's impoverished Eastern Cape province, health care workers report that hardly anyone is ever arrested for raping the mentally disabled. But now a home in the region is sheltering some of these women and girls. The compound of mud huts is known as “Home of Peace.” It’s the only facility for hundreds of miles in this mountainous part of South Africa that rehabilitates people with mental disabilities.

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