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Gender Equity Office is assisting complainant and investigating alleged rape

- Wits University

Statement of the Senior Executive Team:

The University received a complaint about an alleged rape at the Wits Junction residence complex recently.

The matter is being investigated by the Gender Equity Office (GEO) in line with the University’s Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault and Rape Policy

The University has worked with the complainant for the last few weeks and the nature of this engagement is confidential. We urge everyone to respect the confidentiality and integrity of the complainant, who is our first priority. 

The University has committed to a zero tolerance approach to sexual violence and harassment. We cannot achieve this without people laying complaints. We know that there is a rape culture in South Africa and that there are many victims that we do not know about. We hope that the confidentiality with which we are managing this complaint serves as evidence that we will be responsive to every individual complainant in need. We urge anyone who has been the victim of gender based harm at Wits to report these incidents immediately to the Gender Equity Office. 

The Sexual Harassment Advisory Committee will ensure that anyone who has stood in the way of justice or minimised rape in any way will be held to account. 

Associate Professor Bonita Meyersfeld and other members of the Sexual Harassment Advisory Committee to the Gender Equity Office will be addressing the outgoing and incoming House Committees at the Wits Junction Residence Complex at 5pm today. 

Wits’ Policy Statement on Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault and Rape 

The University of the Witwatersrand commits itself to providing a safe institutional environment where all may learn, work and go about their duties and activities free from sexual harassment and sexual violence. Sexual harassment and sexual violence undermine the dignity and autonomy of those victimised and erodes the mutual trust and respect, which are essential to personal and academic wellbeing. Sexual harassment and sexual violence constitute serious disciplinary offences and will not be tolerated at the University of the Witwatersrand. 

Gender Equity Office

The Gender Equity Office deals with all aspects of gender based harm and serves to advance gender equity. The University reiterates that all incidents of gender based harm should be reported to the Gender Equity Office. Their contact details are available here: https://www.wits.ac.za/students/geo/contact-us/ 

Gender-Based Harm (GBH) includes: 

  • Sexism and/or unfair discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation;
  • Sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape; and/or
  • Abuse of power and conflict of interest based on sexual/romantic relationships.

The GEO offers its services free of charge to all staff members and students of the University of the Witwatersrand. 

The GEO provides the following services: 

  • Collects and tracks all GBH-related complaints across the university;
  • Provides a safe and confidential space with full-time counselling support to complainants and victims of GBH;
  • Confidentially advises complainants and victims of GBH of their options;
  • Oversees an independent disciplinary procedure for formal complaints against staff or students accused of GBH; and
  • ​Engages actively in advocacy around gender equality. 
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