Victims and supporters took part in the CPUT silent protest against gender-based violence. Picture: Supplied
Cape Town - The Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) hosted a silent protest on Thursday at all four of its campuses to demonstrate support for victims of gender-based violence (GBV), with the event organised by the university’s HIV/Aids unit.

“We have cases where students have reported incidences of GBV, but this type of violence does not always happen on campus; the girl may have a boyfriend who abuses her at home.

“So this protest is just a way of telling the ladies that they can come to us if they need help,” said CPUT dean of students Prem Coopoo.

Melanie Marais, head of the HIV/Aids unit, said a year ago, the university launched its position statement on the institutional response to gender-based violence where they took a serious stance against GBV within the CPUT community.

“Almost on a daily basis we hear about women been raped, beaten and killed, according to reports, 10% of all reported rape cases happened at institutions of higher learning and one woman killed by her intimate partner every eight hours; symbolic to GBV, we wrapped purple ribbon around over 400 trees across all our campuses to create awareness about the issue,” she said.

The protest was well attended, with many male students and staff members showing their support.

District Six Students’ Representative Council (SRC) chairperson, Tumiso Mfiso said he believed it was important for men to partake in conversations around GBV.

“I am against any form of GBV, whether it happens to a male or female,” he said.

Other universities across the Western Cape have also taken a stand against GBV, with UCT having launched an initiative from July to December called the #JustNO campaign against GBV.

“UCT will not tolerate gender-based violence and rape culture,” it said in a statement.

Stellenbosch University spokesperson Martin Viljoen said the university had a zero-tolerance approach to GBV.

“We are committed to creating an environment free of gender violence and advancing equal rights for all; this commitment is reinforced by the creation of a gender non-violence portfolio at the Equality Unit, within the Centre for Student Counselling and Development,” he said.

Spokesperson for the University of the Western Cape (UWC), Gasant Abarder, said that UWC has embarked on a three-year gender reconciliation training programme aimed at changing mindsets and behaviour.

“This training is innovative in its approach to addressing gender conditioning and gender injustice; it is being implemented by GenderWorks, a Cape Town-based NGO and the overall objective of the project is to contribute to transforming gender relations on campus and at residences at the university,” he said.

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