Nzimande intensifies GBV fight at universities

Picture: Chris Collingridge/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Picture: Chris Collingridge/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published Sep 14, 2022


Johannesburg - Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande is ramping efforts to fight gender-based violence at institutions of higher learning.

This comes after a South African Medical Research Council report revealed that 10% of the rape cases reported in the country are from higher education institutions.

Nzimande revealed this while addressing a gathering hosted by Higher Health focusing on gender-based violence (GBV) in post-school education and training institutions (PSETs) this week.

Nzimande said in light of the medical council's report, his department had created an enabling environment for PSETs to ensure the effective implementation of a policy framework to address GBV at the institutions.

According to the Department of Higher Education, the policy framework, published in 2020, was aimed at promoting the safety of all students and staff by putting awareness programmes in place to raise the importance of policies and services addressing GBV.

It created an enabling policy environment including sector policies, guidelines, standards, protocols and tools to support institutions in the implementation of social inclusion.

"This includes managing the institutional policy environment; managing and supporting implementation programmes within institutions and monitoring the implementation of social inclusion," it added.

Nzimande said: “The policy also provides comprehensive support, and assistance to victims and refers them appropriately to specialised support and assistance in line with the National Instructions, National Directives, List of Designated Health Establishments and Additional Services directives under the Sexual Offences and Related Matters Act.”

He said all interventions are implemented through Higher Health, the implementation arm of the department. Higher Health was implementing a comprehensive and integrated programme promoting the health and well-being of students in universities and TVET colleges.

He said that programmes will provide on-campus support to PSETs in seven priority areas - HIV/TB/STI, sexual reproductive health, maternal health and contraception, GBV, mental health, LGBTQI+, alcohol and drug abuse prevention and disability.

The minister said Higher Health will provide psycho-social support services through two main modalities: the Higher Health toll-free helpline, and through interventions provided by counselling and clinical psychologists.

“This year, over 14 000 students accessed the various Higher Health models of psychosocial support. Academic stress and anxiety (30%), general stress and substance abuse (22%), depression and suicide (18%), and sexual, physical and emotional abuse (19%) present the main reasons for accessing support care,” said Nzimande.

He stated that the Ministerial Task Team on GBVF in universities confirmed that not all universities have sufficient means to deal with GBV.

"The Ministerial Task Team will soon release their report on areas requiring improvement in institutional responses to GBV and sexual harassment.

"The appropriate levels of support needed for the implementation of the National Policy Framework to address gender-based violence by universities," he said.

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