This Women’s Month Western Cape universities have pledged their continued commitment to ensure women safety on campus.
This as a research report, by the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) found that female students being are at a higher risk of sexual victimisation.
The report found that one in five female students in selected public universities and technical colleges have experienced sexual victimisation.
Dr Mercilene Machisa, a specialist scientist in the gender and health research unit, said about 20% of female students in selected public universities and technical college campuses experienced sexual victimisation.
“In 2018, at the height of GBV-related acts, the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) instructed us to do research on sexual violence amongst university students. We were tasked to look at the scale of the problem.
“Part of what we discovered was that there was little to no data on sexual violence in universities. Especially in historically black universities. The findings also revealed a high prevalence of mental health that was triggered by sexual violence, some stemming from childhood,” she said.
Final year student at the University of the Western Cape, Sinovuyo Mkula said though she did not reside on campus, and her practicals on another campus, she felt the environment was safe.
“We have campus protection services that have a role in ensuring safety on campus and there is always security where we do practicals,” she said.
CPUT spokesperson, Lauren Kansley said all staff and students have been issued with an emergency response guideline in the event of any incidents taking place on campus.
“This assists in educating the university community at large about how to respond timeously to these kinds of attacks. Additionally, our Gender Based Violence Task Team meets with stakeholders like the National Prosecuting Authority and NGOs who deal specifically with GBV to continuously guide and update our own responses.
“CPUT students are serviced by Campus Protection Services, Campus Health, Student Counselling and the assistance of local health and counselling services if required.The institution has a holistic response to any incidents which incorporates legal services, student affairs, student counselling and our HIV/Aids unit to name a few. Ultimately the welfare of all our students is our first priority while also doing what we can within our campus communities to make them safe learning spaces,” she said.
UCT said: “The M3 highway cuts through the university, dividing the upper campus from the middle and lower campuses.
“With many entrances for both cars and pedestrians, UCT's open campus is at risk from criminal activities. Campus Protection Services (CPS) can be contacted for assistance.”
Martin Viljoen, spokesperson for Stellenbosch university, said: “The safety of all our students and staff remains a primary concern for Stellenbosch University with lots of time, energy and resources spent on safety and security measures over the last few years, while safety and security arrangements are reviewed continuously. This would include identifying major or new trends and then adjusting security and safety strategies accordingly to ensure the safety of our students and staff on campus,”.
Viljoen said that the fact that the Stellenbosch campus is an open campus intertwined with the Stellenbosch CBD and surroundings, pose unique challenges and external factors such as load shedding are adding to the challenge.
“While the university is continuously creating awareness and addressing safety concerns on campus in conjunction with other security role players in town, it also calls on students, staff, and the public to remain watchful and to be vigilant and active partners in campus safety. This includes taking responsibility for their own safety on campus and in town – even more so at night,” he said.