AMONG FRIENDS: Claire McFarlane with ProjectBRA on the Solomon Islands.
AMONG FRIENDS: Claire McFarlane with ProjectBRA on the Solomon Islands. Photo Seif Ples

Raising rape awareness in 178 countries with epic journey

NORTH Coast woman Claire McFarlane watched in amazement as 200 Papua New Guineans ran down the beach with her in solidarity as part of her global awareness campaign which raises funds for rape survivors.

Otherwise known as ProjectBRA, it forms part of a global campaign that will see Ms McFarlane run more than 3000km of beaches across 184 countries over a three-year period to give women, men and children the courage to break their silence on rape.

Launched in South Africa, the first leg saw her travel to New Zealand, Fiji and the Solomon Islands.

Despite making it on the front page of the Fiji Times it hasn't all been smooth sailing.

"It has been amazing and there have been highs and lows," Ms McFarlane said.

She had to cancel her trip to Tonga because there was significant anti-sentiment there for her campaign.

Although there was no explanation given it may have in part been due to the fact that The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) agreement on women's rights hadn't been ratified.

"The problem is much bigger than I thought, but somewhere deep inside of me I knew how bad it was," she said.

She said that she had witnessed a strong voice in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands where she believes the desire for change is strong.

"It has gotten people talking and they are still talking," she said.

"A lot of organisations are still emailing me and asking me for advice and there is a constant desire to keep that dialogue going.

"And it is interesting to see really obscure countries like the Solomon Islands, where people don't look to them as examples of good practice, but they are.

"But the beauty of this project is it is bringing together all of that knowledge."

Ms McFarlane said that governments needed to step up and be a part of the solution.

The second leg will see ProjectBRA at a host of South East Asian countries.

She will have to switch countries roughly every five days.

You can support and follow the ProjectBRA journey at www.projectbra.org.

For more information about rape, and to get help, in New South Wales contact NSW Rape Crisis www.nswrapecrisis.com.au

Stay connected:

Facebook www.facebook.com/projectbra

Twitter www.twitter.com/Project_BRA



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