100 signatures reached
To: President Ramaphosa, Ministers Bathabile Dlamini and Naledi Pandor
Government must ensure there are Sexual Offences Units at all institutions of higher learning
We demand that the Department of Women and the Department of Higher Education commit to requiring all institutions of higher learning to establish a Sexual Offences Unit. These units must provide effective services and support for survivors of gender and sexual orientation based violence.
Women and non-binary people should be safe at institutions of higher learning, but in just the last 3 months we’ve heard horrific reports: A Walter Sisulu University  student was raped in her room, when a perpetrator entered through the roof of her residence. A student at the university still known as Rhodes  committed suicide in August as a result of the inadequate response to her being raped on campus. Students at NMU protested as another rape surfaced . These incidences are just a few among the many recorded and unrecorded crimes that have occurred. We have to act.
This commitment needs to be part of your national action plan as demanded by The Total Shutdown - Womxn and Gender Non-conforming movement for the National Gender Summit on the 1st - 2nd of November. The Sexual Offences Units will form part of existing and new roll-out of prevention programmes to which institutions of higher learning need to be accountable for,
Why is this important?
A Sexual Offences Unit will ensure that survivors of gender based violence receive specialised and sensitive support and resources that will help towards their healing journey. Campuses that have an already existing ‘gender office’ need to change their systems so that they serve the concerns of everyone on campus, and are in line with the proposed Sexual Offences Unit.
The Black Womxn Caucus, an intersectional women’s organisation at Wits University have called for a ‘rapid response rape team’ for gender based violence to be established on the campus. The movement advocates for a thorough understanding of gender violence as it occurs in many forms and in many spaces, and reinforces the violences that womxn and gender non-comfornimg bodies are subjected to in this country. As the number of rape, sexual abuse and killing of womxn and children in this country continues to increase so does the call from those most affected by violence in our society to organise ourselves to fight gender based violence.
The Black Womxn Caucus insists that if their Vice Chancellor at the time, Adam Habib, among others, were able to establish a rapid response team  to clamp down on student protest action following the #FeesMustFall movement, there is no reason the university should also prioritise the establishment of a ‘rapid response team’ to address gender violence on campus.
The Sexual Offences Units should include: support staff who encourage everyone on campus to go for prosecution through reporting their cases; this includes a 24 hour psychologists available at all times for emergencies, and a space for activists to assist in sharing insights to developing better models aimed at reducing all forms of violence on campus. This unit must also represent the different socio-economic backgrounds of members of the institutions community, and be able to cater to survivors of all backgrounds.
How it will be delivered
- By hand