Rhodes in uproar after list of alleged rapists is released

2016-04-18 13:23

Cape Town – Following a night of protests over a list of alleged rapists at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, the situation at the institution was somewhat calm on Monday, a student reporter said.

The protests were sparked by the publication of a list naming alleged rapists and sexual assaulters who either work or study at Rhodes.

Protesters on Sunday night went into residences demanding to speak to the alleged perpetrators.

The activists said that if their demands were not met by 16:00 on Monday they would call for a full academic shutdown on campus, Mitchell Parker, editor of Rhodes newspaper Activate, said.

Their demands include, changes to the current policy around sexual assault charges.

"These include a change of the definition of rape to include those who are forced to penetrate another as well as to change the policy which currently requires victims to prove that their perpetrators intended to rape them."

They also want those charged with rape to be suspended from residences, and the charges to be placed on their permanent academic records.

Vice Chancellor Sizwe Mabizela pleaded for students to protect the privacy of one of the individuals named who  lives in one of the residences.

Activists then accused Mabizela of wanting to protect a man accused of sexual assault, but neglecting to combat rape culture at the university, Activate reported.

Parker told News24 that the situation on campus was calm and that activists had agreed to take a break. He said they also encouraged cleaning and dining staff to join them in their protests during their lunch breaks.

The publication of the names has had a polarising response on social media.

Some argued that "we have due process for a reason" and that the accused should stand trial and, if found guilty, be removed from the university.

But another responded that "we all know that the way bureaucracy, is that you are only listened to if you have power. For those that don’t have power, they are only listened to when they scream very loudly and make 'strong' demands, knowing that the outcome will be a moderate response".

Many people spoke out on social media about how they or their friends had been assaulted and that little, to no, action had been taken.

"Rhodes prosecutors are shit, in 2014 i was harrassed and attacked, there was a disciplinary hearing but thats where it ended [sic]," @michy_ngxeke tweeted.

"I have a friend that was raped and she still sees the perpetrator on campus almost every day," another said.

Read more on:    rhodes university  |  east london  |  crime

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