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To: MR SHOZI, CHAIR, COMMISSION FOR GENDER EQUALITY; ADV. MUSHWANA, SA HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION; DR NZIMANDE, MIN. OF HIGHER EDUCATION, PROF. HABIB, CHAIR, UNI SA, DR MABIZELA, VC, RHODES UNIVERSITY

Tackle Rape at Universities

Dear Representatives for Gender Equality, Human Rights, and Higher Education,

As people concerned about sexual violence in Higher Education (HE), we, the undersigned offer our support to all those who continue to struggle against rape and other forms of abuse in all sectors of society, particularly in a country where rape and abuse has been a constant feature of the lives of so many people, predominantly womxn. We acknowledge all those who have fought this struggle before us, and those who are raising it for consideration yet again. We ask you join us as we stand in solidarity with students under attack and we call on everyone dedicated to equality, justice and an end to sexual violence to join us.
Higher Education (HE) should be dedicated to, amongst other things, addressing inequalities; producing research that helps address the most pressing problems faced by society; provides teaching that focuses on the complex interplay of power, privilege, and oppression; and setting precedents for new ways of addressing complex issues. HE institutions should be spaces for learning, thinking, reading, analysing, and contributing to the good of all members who form part of HE communities. For survivors of rape and sexual harassment however, HE institutions reproduce rather than challenge existing patriarchal and rape cultures. Institutions of Higher Education need to tackle rape, responses to rape, and the beliefs on campuses that reinforce rape culture NOW.
Starting with the university currently known as Rhodes, we call for:
1. The immediate lifting of the interdict against students participating in current anti-rape protests, all charges against the students arrested while engaged in unarmed and non-violent forms of protest to be dropped, and a commitment not to deploy legal action against students and staff engaged in unarmed and non-violent forms of protest.

2. The creation of safe and facilitated spaces where members of the HE community who choose to do so can give testimony about their experiences of rape and sexual harassment so that these experiences can be heard and recorded and no longer silenced.

3. An external investigation into rape and sexual harassment on campuses post-1994, as well as a review of current processes and policies in place at all universities in relation to the reporting of incidents of rape and sexual harassment; and clear indications and comparisons of the support and resources made available to survivors at different institutions. Findings should include binding resolutions to transform the current system in order to make it more responsive to complainants and more conducive to justice.

4. The implementation of programmes and processes to address rape culture on campuses in all spheres of HE life and for all members of the HE community including management, students, and all staff workers regardless of contract type or in/outsourced nature of the work undertaken.

Why is this important?

For too long rape, rape culture, abuse, victim shaming and blaming, and default suspicion of rape survivors’ statements and motives have been accepted as ‘normal’ – they are not ‘NORMAL’, it is a shameful that we have allowed this to continue for so long.
It is not ‘normal’ that womxn in this country are more likely to be raped than to receive an education; it is not ‘normal’ that oppression and abuse are so pervasive against so many people; it is not ‘normal’ to ask survivors and other womxn to keep waiting patiently while violence is repeatedly meted out on their bodies. Addressing rape and sexual harassment in HE is only one part of a much bigger struggle against rape and other forms of abuse throughout our society in all sectors. Students have raised the issue in the HE education space at this moment and we support them. We call on those who can address the issue in this sector to do so now, so that this sector can set an example to others. Tackle Rape in Higher Education – NOW!

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Updates

2016-06-09 09:43:41 +0200

1,000 signatures reached

2016-04-26 11:32:57 +0200

500 signatures reached