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No means no: Zero tolerance for gender-based harm

- Wits University

The Wits community speaks out on gender-based harm.

The scourge of gender-based harm in South Africa and the rise of femicide rates and incidents sent shock waves across the country in recent months. According to the World Health Organization, the South African femicide rate is five times the global average.

The murders of students Uyinene Mrwetyana (University of Cape Town) and Jesse Hess (University of the Western Cape) enraged both men and womxn. The hashtags #AmINext #MenAreTrash trended on social media with calls to amend the justice system, and policies to best support victims of gender-based harm.

On 9 September 2019, Wits University took a stand against gender-based harm with hundreds of students, staff and allies joining the nationwide march against gender-based harm. The Wits march, which was in solidarity with womxn across the country who have been victimised, called for government to take the threat on the lives and livelihood of all womxn in South Africa seriously.

The 16 Days of Activism campaign for no violence against womxn and children aims to  increase awareness of gender-based violence and to galvanise society to take a stand against rape. Themed, Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands against Rape, the international campaign runs annually from 25 November to 10 December 2019.

Professor Adam Habib, Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal and #HeforShe Impact Champion, said it is imperative for the Wits community to come together to collectively address the scourge of gender-based harm. 

“If we going to deal decisively with gender-based harm at Wits University, then the stakeholders have to come together in a comprehensive response. It requires academics to be mindful of each other, to understand and see what’s playing out in their classrooms and to provide support as and when it is required. It is fundamental that we come together as a University community to address the scourge,” he said.

The University has a zero tolerance approach to gender-based harm and strongly condemns all forms of violence, abuse and discrimination. Any incidents of gender-based harm should be reported to the Wits Gender Equity Office (GEO) located on the 20th floor of University Corner, Braamfontein Campus East.

In the event of sexual offence or rape, victims should do the following:

1. Try get to a safe place as soon as possible. Do not clean yourself in any way.

2. Contact someone you trust and tell them what has happened.

3. Get help: Contact GEO on their 24HR hotline 076 827 4001/ 011 717 9790.

4. Visit the Milpark Hospital within 72 hours for their free sexual assault centre service.