Spotlight on Rape

Campuses have a great deal to do to make these safe spaces for female students

Dela Gwala, from UCT Survivors, a blog platform that has create a space for students to share their experiences and tell their stories.

Gwala says the reason rape survivors do not always report, is they do not feel supported when they do.

It's always very strange to ask the question why don't more students come forward , why aren't more students reporting? Because if you look at sexual harassment, our policy is that the protection offered to survivors, is them taking a leave of absence. So them leaving, and the perpetrator being allowed to remain on campus.

Dela Gwala, UCT Survivors

The other form of protection offered is 'no contact orders'. Gwala says many survivors have spoken out about perpetrators violating these orders and nothing being done about it.

She says the tribunal has one prosecutor to service not only sexual offences, but also plagarism and many other cases.

The prosecutor herself has spoken openly in SART (Sexual Assault Response Team) meetings about the fact that in some of the trials, it's questionable whether the proctors are knowledgeable about the Sexual offences Act and whether they are knowledgeable about dealing with survivors and understanding the psychology of trauma.

Dela Gwala, UCT Survivors

Gwala summarises the situation as follows: There is no protection offered to survivors when they report. There is no guarantee that the perpetrator will be removed from campus.

And she believes there is a conflation between sexual assault and sexual harassment

When there is physical sexual contact, it is sometimes deemed sexual harassment which is not correct.

Dela Gwala, UCT Survivors

Gwala says it is difficult for survivors to be expected to trust structures that have failed them in the past, that have been unaccountable, non transparent and have offered them no support.

Even the Student Wellness Centre has been reported to be failing survivors, says Gwala.

She is critical of SART (Sexual Assault Response Team). While it is a step in the right direction, she says it is not adequately resourced.

There is no sign that they are willing to provide adequate resources in order to combat sexual violence and rape culture on campus.

Dela Gwala, UCT Survivors

Nomzamo Ntombela from the University of Stellenbosch offered her similar insights of what it is like to be female and a student on that campus.

She says many rapes occur particularly during some of the big events on campus. But students are treated poorly when they report.

We've been getting emails from our rector, who told us it's 'sexual occurrences'. He doesn't even acknowledge that it's rape.

Nomzamo Ntombela, University of Stellenbosch student

Ntombela says the task team that was set up a few months ago has little profile. Students do not even know who is involved or where it is.

She says there is also this idea that female students need to be careful about working late at night and walking alone.

The idea to put the pressure especially on women to prevent rape, completely derails the conversation. it takes away accountability from perpetrators of sexual violence. And that is rape culture.

Nomzamo Ntombela, University of Stellenbosch student

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