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sabato 14 maggio 2016
Cape Town -”If I was a bus or a painting, maybe UCT management would care about me.” This was the sentiment of UCT students who gathered at the Bremner Building on Wednesday to express their anger at vice-chancellor Dr Max Price over the way the university handled incidents of sexual violence.
UCT Survivors leader and Masters student Dela Gwala addressed Price across a crowd of students.
“This year we are already dealing with 18 cases,” she said.”If this happens repeatedly, there’s quite obviously something wrong with the system.”
Gwala was raped the year after she completed her first degree. She sought help, but experienced blaming and shaming by police and medical staff. ”Battling PTSD, I found solace in solidarity with students who also experienced sexual violence.”
UCT Survivors is now an online platform for people to share their experiences and find support among others recovering from sexual violence.
“Survivors are expected to bear the burden of the job you’re not doing,” Gwala told Price.
The #UCTSpeaksBack protest follows action at universities across the country demanding that universities find better ways to deal with sexual harassment, assault and rape on campuses.
At Rhodes University, activism developed into a full scale protest with violent police response after a list of rape accused was circulated online. Wits students stood in solidarity with Rhodes activists through the #Iamoneinthree protest.
Roshila Nair of the Black Academic Caucus (BAC) said she left UCT without completing her Masters due to post-traumatic stress disorder after being raped twice. One of the rapes occurred in Woolsack Residence, where she was a sub-warden.
Twenty years later, Nair has returned to UCT, only to find that four out of eight people in her Masters class had experienced rape.
“I would like to see a UCT that takes survivors seriously,” she said.”It’s not our responsibility as women to avoid being raped. We should not be sexually violated on this campus.”
Nair read out a list of demands from the BAC, which included better lighting in dangerous areas, more panic buttons and security patrols.
UCT is especially dangerous for people with disabilities, according to Kanyisa Ntombini of UCT for Disability Justice.
She said she knew a student who was sexually harassed by a Jammie Shuttle driver nine years ago, and that he is still driving students around campus.
Ntombini also said disabled people had stopped attending one-on-one tutoring because of sexual harassment by tutors.
The list of demands from UCT Survivors included that case reviews be made publicly available, that a feedback system kept students informed of rape statistics on campus and how the university had responded to them, and that the accused should be suspended while they were under investigation.
At the end of the meeting, Price was given a chance to respond.
“I know many of you want to see me and management as the enemy, but we have the same goal,” he said.
“We would like UCT to be a leading organisation in defeating patriarchy.”
Price said that while sexual violence on campus was a long-standing issue, the conversation about it had never before been so visible.
You can follow the conversation online using the hashtag #UCTSpeaksBack.