By: Bandile Ntshingila
Cape Town – The students of the University of the Western Cape (UWC) have come to a point where they can no longer depend on management to do what they have to in dismantling the rape culture that is becoming prevalent at the institution. Following an incident that occurred in the past month where a female student was raped in one of the bathrooms on campus, conversations have started amongst students in trying to find solutions themselves.
The discussion that took place on Monday, 29 May 2017 was initiated by Siyasanga Ndwayi, the current SRC Gender& Security Officer and fellow students sought to “liberate the constituency of Azania on rape, gender and womxn’s liberation and build a mass movement that will build archives for the womxn’s liberations in UWC and Azania”. Appositely, the True Leaders Forum (TLF) had already planned a similar discussion that would include all the political structures at the institution. It took place on Tuesday, 30 May 2017 seeing that the university had reached that point again where there is an increase in the number of rape cases, the topic needed further unpacking. The questions posed to the structures were quite necessary since student representatives that assume office are usually from student political organisations.
Simthandile Azania Tyhali, a discussant and panelist pointed out in both discussions that it is extremely unfortunate that students have to gather and discuss issues like rape at higher institutions of learning especially one that promotes misogyny and patriarchy. This is not the first time that a member of the UWC community is victimized as it dates back to 2014 and the negligence and manner in which the institution handles the cases has made it a yearly occurrence in that each year one or more cases are reported of which almost all of them go unsolved. Students were angered by the fact that victims are expected to live and breathe amongst the perpetrators of this heinous crime.
These discussions are not the first steps taken by students as they had previously engaged in silent protests where memorandums were handed over to management demanding that the policies of the institution be amended. Akhanya Chole, one of the panelists at Monday’s discussion said that more programmes including screenings and discussions unpacking rape culture will be held where students will work on implementing their plans on curbing the rape crisis at the institution.
“We ask the same questions, but we really don’t answer them. The discourse is not moving forward. As long as we continue to see rape as isolated incidents, we will continue to be helpless.” – Professor Pumla Dineo Gqola, author and activist