15 April 2016
Dear colleagues and students,
I am writing to inform you about a tragic incident that happened this week, involving a University of Cape Town student, and to discuss our response as a campus community to this type of criminal behaviour.
The student reported being raped in her room at a UCT residence on Tuesday night, 12 April 2016. The accused was a visitor who is not a UCT student. The incident is being investigated. Residence staff worked with Campus Protection Services (CPS) and the Discrimination and Harassment Office (DISCHO) to assist the student to get immediate medical attention. The student has also been offered counselling and other support, including assistance in filing a criminal charge.
Rape is unacceptable and criminal no matter where it happens or whom it harms. But it is particularly shocking that it has occurred in what should be a place of safety: a student’s room at a UCT residence. The university is committed to maintaining an environment across campus where students and staff members can feel safe from threats of personal harm.
This is one of the reasons why UCT has established the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART): a multidisciplinary team of professionals who will work together to address the culture of rape, sexual assault and gender discrimination that is so prevalent in South African society. In particular, they will identify and address ways that these types of criminal behaviour affect UCT and how we as a campus community can help prevent them. SART will also seek to provide survivor-centred, compassionate and comprehensive services on campus. The team is headed by Associate Professor Sinegugu Duma of the Faculty of Health Sciences. She will coordinate the participation of colleagues from Student Wellness Service, CPS and DISCHO, as well as professionals from outside UCT.
As news reports show, sexual harassment and sexual violence is a global problem. We welcome the efforts students and staff members are making to bring this issue into the public forum at UCT. Speaking up about the many forms that sexual violence can take is an important step in raising awareness, educating people and changing attitudes and behaviour.
Please keep in mind that assistance is available on campus if you are experiencing any form of harassment or violence:
Professor Sandra Klopper
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Please view the republishing articles page for more information.