UCT Vice-chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town – UCT has launched a campaign against gender-based violence (GBV), which will run from July until December 2019. 

The #JustNO campaign carries the message that UCT does not tolerate gender-based violence and rape culture. The campaign articulates how UCT is responding to GBV through improved systems within the institution, through advocacy and awareness, and through research. 

It also seeks to ensure that students and staff are aware of UCT’s policies and know when and where to seek assistance and guidance.

UCT vice-chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng said as an institution of higher learning, UCT should play a role in leading research and conversations on gender-based and sexual violence while at the same time putting policies and systems in place to address all forms of GBV. 

“We furthermore acknowledge that there are many role players assisting in addressing GBV in our institution, through their teaching, research, advocacy, activism and support roles. We are working in consultation with them and are grateful for their initiatives and support.

“The high rates of gender-based violence in South Africa have given rise to significant public calls for and support of campaigns to end GBV. 

"UCT is committed to responding to GBV, which is a problem on our campus and within the higher education sector.” 

In response to gender-based violence and to collectively stand against GBV on campus and beyond its borders, various UCT faculties, residences and departments will host seminars and workshops as part of the campaign. 

On August 2, one of the first events of the UCT GBV Campaign will be a silent protest. This is a peaceful, annual gathering of students and staff on campuses during the month of August to show solidarity with rape survivors and to promote the right to be free from all forms of gender-based violence. 

“It also highlights the challenges rape survivors face after reporting incidents of sexual violence. Each silent protest includes a briefing, a message from the UCT executive, symbolic silencing, a march, a 'die-in' and an open mic session to end the protest, allowing participants to break the silence about gender-based violence,” said Phakeng, who will join the silent march together with members of the UCT executive. 

The march will be staged with support from the Office of the Vice-Chancellor, the Office for Inclusivity and Change, the Student Wellness Services, the Sexual Assault Response Team and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. 

“We must challenge ourselves collectively to do something differently that enables the change we seek at UCT. We all need to account: account for inaction, account for lack of participation. 

"In all of these phases, we do not ask survivors to act – in fact, we ask those who have not been affected by violence to enable the difference that is sought,” concluded Phakeng.