Story Yusuf Omar. Photo Michael Hammond.
If you'd walked along UCT's Jammie Plaza last week, the T-shirts strung across the plaza would have caught your eye. The T-shirts, each painted with an anti-sexual assault message, were hung by a group called UCT Survivors, whose stated aim is to undo the silencing around sexual assault, sexual harassment and discrimination at UCT.
By displaying the painted T-shirts in this public space, UCT Survivors called on the university to “be open about the perpetrators that are part of the UCT community”, according to a statement they released.
“They need to be open about how their structures have failed survivors in the past,” said the statement. UCT survivors also called for the results of last year's review of the Discrimination and Harassment Office to be made public.
One T-shirt was emblazoned with, “It's not your fault”, in response to what UCT Survivors sees as a culture of blaming the victims of sexual assault. Women should not have to bear the responsibility of not being raped, they said. Instead, sexism and rape culture on campus need to be tackled head-on.
“UCT management and its structures need to make a commitment to dismantling the everyday sexism and misogyny that not only fuels sexual violence but creates an environment of tolerance and silence about it,” they said.
The T-shirt installation was followed by a march to Bremner building on Thursday, 17 March 2016, which UCT Survivors led to impress the urgency of these issues upon the management team. About 100 people gathered outside Bremner where they shared their personal stories about how they had been affected by sexual violence on campus.
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