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Tamara Mellon visits South Africa to see how Project PEP has supported victims of rape

24 March 2010

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CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA

Tamara Mellon, Founder and President of luxury accessory brand Jimmy Choo was in Khayelitsha township on the 24th March 2010 visiting services for women and children at risk of HIV/AIDS.   The visit, which was hosted by the Elton John AIDS Foundation, was to see at first hand where monies raised from Project PEP, a global fundraising initiative developed in partnership by Jimmy Choo and the Foundation are being used.

Mellon was accompanied by David Furnish, Chairman of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.  The pair visited a sexual health clinic based in an industrial container in the Site C area of Khayelitsha, a sprawling township (pop 1 million) just outside Cape Town.  Here, women are counselled about domestic violence, sexual abuse,  condom use and now, thanks to Project PEP, funds can be given for the vital Post Exposure Prophylaxis medication or ‘PEP’ to prevent transmission of HIV during rape.

Project PEP was conceived by Tamara Mellon to help the Elton John AIDS Foundation support rape victims. Rape is a huge problem and a big driver of HIV transmission.  One in three women in South Africa will be raped in her lifetime; the country has the highest number of people living with HIV/AIDS in the world.

The Jimmy Choo PEP Limited Edition Collection, a vibrant capsule collection featuring a distinctive and collectible punk rock motif print was designed to directly support the funding of the Simelela Centre in South Africa.  This cause has particular resonance for Jimmy Choo because of its support and empowerment of women.

The Foundation is using funds from the PEP project to spread critical Simelela services to its partners, including the Mosaic clinic visited by Mellon and Furnish.

At the Site C clinic, which is run by Mosaic, Tamara and David met a patient who had been beaten by her husband with an iron bar.  “He just didn’t care a thing about me” she said.  “Then he put our 11-year-old daughter in a taxi…nobody knew where she was going.  The taxi driver raped her.  We found her several hours later.”  The Mosaic clinic was able to provide legal protection, counselling and ongoing support as well as medical care, PEP and forensic examination for the child. “They are like our family” says the mother.

“I’m so impressed with the way the Elton John AIDS Foundation doesn't just fund vital projects, but really engages with its grantees says Mellon,” and checks where every penny is going. They work with all the partners to get the best results.”

Tamara went on national radio in South Africa to talk about her collaboration with the Foundation and the need for services like Simelela.   She praised the success of the Project PEP collection that is making a massive difference in preventing thousands of victims of rape from becoming HIV positive.

“We are so grateful to Tamara for lending her talent and energies to supporting this work” says David Furnish.  “It has been a privilege to show here where the money is going”.

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