Silent­ protest­ against­ gen­der-based­ vi­o­lence­ at­ UKZN

The Witness - - NEWS - NOKUTHULA KHANYILE

STU­DENTS and oth­ers held a “silent protest” against abuse of women at the Univer­sity of KwaZulu-Natal’s Pi­eter­mar­itzburg cam­pus yes­ter­day.

Break the si­lence: we be­lieve you, Khen­sani Maseko 2018 and Zo­lile Khumalo 2018 were some of the mes­sages dis­played on the plac­ards car­ried by the stu­dents.

Maseko, a third-year stu­dent at Rhodes Univer­sity, com­mit­ted sui­cide last month af­ter she was al­legedly raped by her then boyfriend, while Khumalo, a Man­go­suthu Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy stu­dent was shot dead by her ex-boyfriend in May.

The stu­dents, to­gether with the or­gan­is­ers of the day-long protest, the Aids Health­care Foun­da­tion, were out to raise aware­ness of the alarm­ing epi­demic of gen­der-based vi­o­lence in the coun­try.

The silent pro­test­ers taped their mouths as they marched silently through the cam­pus.

Then there was a “die-in”. This was the sym­bolic me­mo­rial for those who were raped and mur­dered due to gen­der-based vi­o­lence.

Stu­dents said it was im­por­tant to raise aware­ness and spread the word of unity against vi­o­lence against women. There­fore, they stood in sol­i­dar­ity with vi­o­lence and abuse sur­vivors who are usu­ally si­lenced by their ex­pe­ri­ences.

Larissa Klazinga, the pol­icy and ad­vo­cacy man­ager of the Aids Health­care Foun­da­tion, ex­plained the im­por­tance of the march.

“We be­lieve that un­less we find a way to break the si­lence on vi­o­lence in our coun­try, we are never go­ing to win the war on Aids.

“We are here to­day to raise aware­ness on how vast the scope of gen­der vi­o­lence is and this march is to as­sure peo­ple that they are not alone,” Klazinga said.

She ex­plained that a huge is­sue is un­der-re­port­ing.

Klazinga said there was a lag­ging re­sponse to the sex­ual vi­o­lence and that sex­ual of­fences have not been dealt with as they should have been.

“We know that the av­er­age rape case is post­poned 36 times and it takes four years be­fore you get a ver­dict. It’s very dif­fi­cult to ac­cess jus­tice.”

The crime sta­tis­tics re­leased by po­lice this week show that from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018 mur­ders of women and chil­dren have in­creased.

Dur­ing that pe­riod, 291 more women were killed, 117 more boys and 29 more girls.

Re­ported rapes in South Africa in­creased to 40 035 cases, an in­crease of 0,5% and re­ported sex­ual as­sault has in­creased by 8,2% to 6 786 cases.

The to­tal num­ber of sex­ual of­fences against women, as re­ported to po­lice, has dropped by 1,7% to 36 731 cases. • nokuthula.khanyile@me­dia24.com

◀ LARISSA KLAZINGA Pol­icy and ad­vo­cacy man­ager of the Aids Health­care Foun­da­tion

“We be­lieve that un­less we find a way to break the si­lence of vi­o­lence in our coun­try, we are never go­ing to win the war on Aids. We are here to­day to raise aware­ness on how vast the scope is of gen­der vi­o­lence and this march is to as­sure peo­ple that they are not alone.”

PHOTO: IAN CARBUTT

UKZN stu­dents Pretty Abra­ham (left) and Abongile Maty­ila were part of the silent march against gen­der-based vi­o­lence at the Pi­eter­mar­itzburg cam­pus yes­ter­day.

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