The Students' Representative Council kicked off their 'There is no Excuse' campaign against sexual violence, harrassment and rape in front of a large student gathering on the plaza on Thursday.
The recent rapes of three UCT students and assault on a member of the public in the off-campus area below Rhodes Memorial had highlighted the scourge of sexual violence, both in broader society and particularly on campus.
In their pre-event publicity, the SRC said that the 'There is No Excuse' campaign also recognised that the platform should deal with other critical student issues, such as the student housing crisis and the activities of the Public Order Policing unit on campus following the arrest of Rhodes Must Fall members on Tuesday 16 February.
“We are not a one-issue society,” said one student, addressing the gathering.
But underscoring the protest was the scourge of sexual violence and harrassment, aggravated by a culture of patriarchy and sexism. Speakers voiced students' disappointment in UCT's Discrimination and Harassment Office (DISCHO), which deals with cases of discrimination, sexual harassment, harassment, domestic violence, and rape, saying it had failed its students and survivors. (DISCHO is currently under review.)
Among the speakers was Guy Lamb, director of UCT's Safety and Violence Initiative. This initiative focuses on scholarship and research in the field and how this can be applied in society. But the time had come, he said, to extend this to a comprehensive safety campaign for campus.
Story by staff reporter. Photo by Michael Hammond.
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