Elsa Corp Justice Project

On 17th September 2021, on what would have been Elsa’s 38th birthday, we helped Butoke to launch the Elsa Corp Justice Project. The purpose of the Project is to help survivors of sexual violence in the area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) where Butoke works, and to bring the perpetrators of sexual violence to justice (read more below).

The project is named in honour of Elsa Corp, our beautiful daughter and sister. Elsa was a happy, kind, and extremely caring person, who was adored by her many friends. She always had a smile on her face, and loved to go out and have a good time with her friends. Elsa grew up in Cheltenham in the suburbs of Melbourne, and was a hairdresser by trade.

On the 1st of February 2010, Elsa was murdered by a man introduced to her by a friend. Unknown to Elsa, her “date” had a criminal record and was on parole at the time, and although he had broken parole, he was released from prison anyway. To try and change laws that would allow violent re-offenders to be free within the community, we campaigned by letters, appearances on radio and television, and a public rally that gathered over 10,000 signatures. Finally, in 2013 “Elsa’s Law” was introduced into parliament, stating that prisoners who had committed a serious offence whilst on parole were to be re-imprisoned.

Elsa would love the fact that her name is associated with a cause that helped young girls and women in such terrible situations. She would probably say “that is so not fair”, and be appalled at some of the cases that we have heard about in the DRC. She would be thrilled to know that she is helping these girls seek justice.

– Gilly, Andy, and Danny Corp

Butoke’s work with the survivors of sexual violence in the DRC

Sexual violence is endemic in the DRC. In perhaps the majority of cases, survivors of sexual violence receive no assistance after being attacked and perpetrators are not charged with any criminal offence. Further, the survivors of sexual violence often find that they are rejected by their own families and communities.

Butoke has for some time tried to improve the situation in the part of the DRC where it operates. It has done this by providing assistance to survivors of sexual violence and by encouraging the prosecution of perpetrators. The assistance provided includes medical and psychological care, financial assistance with basic necessities which the girls and women often lack when they arrive at Butoke’s door after being attacked (food and clothing for example), and relocation to an area away from where the attack occurred, if that is what the survivor wants. In addition, Butoke pays for the survivors of sexual violence to be legally represented so that charges may be brought when a perpetrator is arrested. If survivors are not legally represented, then charges will not usually be brought. A report on the work of this kind carried out by Butoke between June 2020 and earlier this year is available here. Butoke made a real difference to the lives of the 10 girls and women who it helped.

What the Elsa Corp Justice Project aims to achieve

Butoke’s ability to carry out this work is always hampered by a lack of funds. Butoke was therefore delighted when the family of Elsa Corp and byrne dean, a business co-founded by Matt Dean, Elsa’s cousin in the UK, showed an interest in this work and agreed to fund it over the next 12 months and perhaps beyond. With this new source of funding, Butoke hopes to be able to expand both the number of girls and women it helps and, also, the extent of the assistance provided to individual girls and women. For example Butoke would like to be able, where appropriate, to offer unemployed survivors of sexual violence vocational training in the hope that they can become economically self-sufficient. This will reduce their vulnerability going forward and increase the prospect of their family helping them reintegrate into their own community.

How will money I donate to the Elsa Corp Justice Project be used?

Any money you give will be sent to The Friends of Butoke Charity in the UK. Then, when Butoke identifies a girl or woman who needs help after being attacked, the Charity will send funds to Butoke in the DRC. 100% of money donated will be spent in the DRC. The Charity’s running costs are paid by its trustees.

Money donated will be spent by Butoke on items such as medical and psychological care, food and clothing, relocation costs, and, sometimes, vocational education for the girl or woman concerned. Butoke will also pay for their legal fees to ensure that where possible perpetrators are prosecuted. If the funds raised by the Elsa Corp Justice Project exceed those required to help the survivors of sexual violence with whom Butoke works then, in conjunction with the family of Elsa Corp, Butoke may decided to spend those excess funds on related projects. For example, Butoke is in the process of building a maternity unit in one of the communities it serves, and this will treat victims of sexual violence. Butoke needs further funds to complete this project.

The Charity will provide a report on the Elsa Corp Justice Project around this time next year, so that everyone who has donated to it will be able to see what it has achieved.

How can I give money?

Friends and family of Elsa Corp in Australia can find out how to donate to the Elsa Corp Justice Project by contacting her brother, Danny Corp (danieltcorp@gmail.com). Existing supporters of Butoke may make donations by using the usual bank details and specifying that the payment is for the Elsa Corp Justice Project – or contact Paul Evans (paulevans@blueyonder.co.uk), one of the Charity’s trustees.