National campaign aims to spread awareness of gender-based violence
Share this article:
CAPE TOWN - In light of the tragic passing of the University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana two years ago, UCT’s Office of Inclusivity and Change (OIC) is helping co-ordinate a national campaign to spread awareness and eradicate gender-based violence (GBV).
To urge Parliament to eliminate violence against and exploitation of women and girls, the OIC will assist in facilitating thousands of written reflection letters that will be collected and transported from the Clareinch Post Office to the Cape Town Parliament buildings.
Following the murder of University of Fort Hare student Nosicelo Mtebeni, and in memory of Mrwetyana, vice-chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng encouraged everyone to not give up and to continue raising awareness for the cause.
“The deeply shocking murder of Mtebeni strikes too close to home. Just two years ago this week, we were reeling from the rape and murder of Uyinene. Today, I am devastated that I feel the same heartache I felt in 2019. On behalf of UCT, I extend our heartfelt condolences to Nosicelo’s family, friends and the University of Fort Hare community on this terrible loss.”
“South Africa is being robbed of our bright stars of the future and every year, across our country, in all kinds of communities and homes, women and girls face SGBV from the men they look to for love and protection: whether it is a boyfriend or a husband, a father or other relative, a neighbour or friend or colleague at work or in school or university.”
“We may not know these women and girls, but they are our responsibility. Hence, I am appealing to everyone to make a commitment to do what you can to protect the future women hold,” said Phakeng.
A high school pupil, who wished to remain anonymous, expressed that growing up as a woman in South Africa feels like an involuntary risk she takes every time she has to be around men.
“I cannot step outside my house without being afraid of what could happen to me. If a post office was used as a means of committing a crime, then I am afraid to be anywhere. Women being murdered on a daily basis has become a pattern in South Africa and I feel like having the perpetrators incarcerated and giving them a second chance to better themselves is not enough.
“I feel like lawmakers are not taking GBV seriously. That’s why perpetrators feel comfortable to take lives because having to go to a correctional service facility does not provide the justice the victim truly deserves. What is the purpose of going to a correctional service facility if the perpetrators feel comfortable being there? And why should I be uncomfortable in a post office because someone might bludgeon me to death with a 2kg scale?” asked the pupil.
Phakeng called on the men of UCT to rise up and help to hold each other accountable for the attitudes, unconscious behaviour and direct actions that contribute to SGBV.
“Every women who is destroyed by SGBV had something to offer her family, community and country. Through SGBV we lost that significant potential. It is our responsibility to do everything we can to end this destruction,” said Phakeng.
In addition to the cause, the OIC will be hosting the “Empowered Through Vulnerability” survivor support series. This is a series of weekly live engagements on life after sexual violence and post-traumatic growth, featuring input by expert panellists and survivors of sexual violence from the UCT Survivor Support Group. These sessions, streamed via Zoom and Instagram Live, include segments on the survivors’ lived experiences, criminal prosecution, mental health diagnosis and well-being (including rape trauma syndrome), myths and stigmas surrounding rape and what life is like after sexual violence and trauma.
The Uyinene Mrwetyana Foundation is providing templates where messages can be submitted. All submissions will be attached as a petition to be received by the Presidency on Saturday.