Women protest against rape at UP

HENRI UYS

On 16 May, approximately 100 female students protested on UP’s Hatfield campus. The protest was part of a campaign called “UP safety is a lie”.

Perdeby spoke to some of the protestors, who preferred to be identified as “All women on campus”. They said, “We decided to come together because we are tired of this institution (UP) not protecting us and not protecting our interests. We are unsafe in this space. Women are getting raped, women are getting sexually violated in their own residences.”

One female student who took part in the demonstration said, “I took part in the demonstration because I felt that we as women, particularly black women, needed our voices to be heard. There is a rape crisis going on within our country and within our university and I felt that the demonstration was the first of many steps in creating awareness on this.” She added, “I think that a lot of the time – if not all the time – the university sweeps its rape cases under the [carpet], victimising rape survivors and allowing their perpetrators to walk free.”

Rikus Delport, UP spokesperson, said that the university is currently revising its policy on sexual harassment. “The Sexual Harassment policy is currently under review and inputs received from the #SpeakOutUP campaign have been included. We did engage with students last year to improve awareness as part of our ongoing campaign against sexual violence, which is being repeated this year,” Delport said. He added, “The University of Pretoria condemns any and all acts of sexual assault in the strongest terms and will not hesitate to take the necessary steps against anyone found guilty of this offence. The students who were protesting have highlighted an important social issue that affects women everywhere. We will continue to look for ways to raise awareness and provide support for survivors. The safety of our students and staff remains our highest priority.”

Delport also said that the university has implemented changes to its reporting procedure. These changes include “the introduction of three sexual harassment officials” and “the establishment of the UP Careline which offers students support in instances of trauma associated with sexual violence, sexual harassment and rape”. Students can contact the UP Careline on 0800 747 747.

According to Crime Stats SA’s website, a total of 51 895 sexual offences were reported in 2016. According to the same website, 35 cases of sexual offences were reported in the Brooklyn precinct in 2016. 

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