‘Kwanele’ as UJ students take a firm stand against gender based violence

As crimes against women and children are on the increase, Ms Andy Kawa, the founder of the Kwanele-Enuf Foundation, echoed the need for students not to be silent and fearful and to take a proactive stand against gender-based violence, whether the crime is committed to female, male, lesbian, gay, transgender or bisexual students. Ms Kawa was speaking at a workshop held at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) on Wednesday 14 and 15 June 2017 in Auckland Park, Sophiatown Residence.

UJ’s Department of Strategic Communication collaborated with Student Affairs, Protection Services, Campus Health, IOHA and PsyCAD to find ways of decreasing the high level of gender-based violence and sexual violence across the country.

This engagement was attended by students, staff members and brought together Civil Society Organisations and the SAPS officers. Students engaged with the stakeholders as well as with representatives on both the panels.

Another speaker at the event was sexual rights campaigner & TV presenter, Andile Gaelesiwe who shared Ms Kawa’s sentiments that the scourge of rape does not discriminate against gender, age, race or social class. It affects the whole of society.

Dr Corné Davis, UJ Senior Lecturer at the Department of Strategic Communication said, “The key message we wanted 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,” explained Dr Davis.

The prevalence of Social, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SSGBV) in South Africa is generally known and widely publicised in reports by Genderlinks, by providing statistics on GBV in South Africa in their annual War @ home report. The 2015 report showed that of those sampled 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,” added Dr Davis.

Using a combination of mass media, social mobilisation and advocacy, the 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 violence and sensitising them to the consequences and effects of SSGBV.

“At the end of the workshop, a pledge was signed where students committed themselves to participation in one of six themes, which is research, peer education, community support, IOHA & Campus Health projects, special projects and social media campaigns,” said Dr Corné Davis.

“They will also submit a portfolio of evidence including the identification of needs in their direct communities, independent campaigns to address those needs, and manifestos to inspire SSGBV activism among their peers. This workshop was the first of many other proactive steps UJ is taking with regards to SSGBV”, concluded Dr Davis.

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