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Gender-based violence workshop underway at UJ

Social, sexual and gender-based violence (SSGBV) has featured in the news even more prominently over the past few weeks. While this issue was previously referred to as gender-based-violence, it has become apparent that somehow society participates in the cultivation of violence through silence and even ignorance and its social dimension therefore has to be acknowledged in its title.

The Department of Strategic Communication at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), in collaboration with Campus Health, IOHA and PsyCAD will host a two day training workshop from Wednesday, 14 June until 15 June 2017 in Auckland Park, Sophia Town Residence to address SSGBV issues.

“In the framework of the project, “Matla a Bana” a campaign against child rape and secondary abuse developed by the class of Strategic Communication in 2013 and the launch of the Kwanele-Enuf campaign in 2015, much progress has been made to address SSGBV issues at UJ,” says Dr Corne Davis, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Strategic Communication.

The overall objective of the workshop is to engage students in projects that develop their skills while engaging with various communities and finding solutions to the many issues surrounding SSGBV.

Groups of students and staff at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), representing IOHA, Campus Health, Strategic Communication and Transformation completed GBV training with the Foundation for Professional Development, which was funded by USAID and endorsed by the South African Medical Research Council.

“The key message we want to deliver is that every person can make a difference. It is generally known that people are passive bystanders who do not want to get involved in domestic or intimate partner violence but, as it has been shown in the recent news about femicide in South Africa, this has dire consequences. We need to teach our students how to recognise any kind of abuse, how to address it and how to say “Enuf” when they witness it,” explains Dr Davis.

“In February 2017 the class of Strategic Communication Honours students commenced with research on personal safety apps with a specific focus on mySOS. The introduction and development of this app among UJ staff and students aim to raise awareness of personal safety and also of support services available,” says Dr Davis.

The prevalence of SSGBV in South Africa is generally known and widely publicised in reports by Genderlinks, by providing statistics on GBV in South African in their yearly War @ home report. The 2015 report showed that, of the sample, almost 70% of males admitted to perpetrating some kind of SSGBV in their lifetime, which corresponded with other studies that indicated that almost the same percentage of women indicated that they had been victims of SSGBV during the course of their life.

“It follows from these generally known statistics, that children have alarming rates of exposure to domestic and/or intimate partner violence and/or child sexual abuse. The stigma that has always enveloped any kind of SSGBV means that such childhood experiences have in many cases not been addressed and left young people with wounds that have not healed,” adds Dr Davis,

“The first SSGBV workshop hosted by UJ Student Affairs and Kwanele-Enuf aims to encourage students to actively participate in the elimination of all kinds of SSGBV through building their understanding of the many different kinds of SSGBV and sensitising them to the consequences and effects of SSGBV.”

“At the end of the workshop, students will commit themselves to participation in one of six themes, which research, peer education, community support, IOHA & Campus Health projects, special projects and social media campaigns,” says Dr Corne Davis.

“The reality is that very few people never experience any kind of SSGBV in their lifetime and in Gauteng, in particular. We are confident that this first workshop that will be followed by many others will empower our students and their communities. We will have many inspiring stories to tell along this journey”, concludes Dr Davis.

UJ Campus Health, IOHA and PsyCAD run continuous awareness and support programs relating to Social, sexual and gender-based violence issues.

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