Students protest against rape culture

2017-05-25 19:05

Johannesburg - Students from a number of universities in Gauteng have protested against gender-based violence, and a culture that tolerates rape, by stopping traffic on Nelson Mandela Bridge in Johannesburg.

The demonstration on Wednesday organised by the South African Students Congress (Sasco) to draw public attention to violence and crime experienced by students, not only at nearby Wits University, but also at other learning institutions in the province.

Provincial Sasco treasurer Fasiha Hassan said some sort of disruption was needed in order to remind society that violence against women and children should not be normalised.

rape protest johannesburg
Gauteng students protested against rape culture by stopping rush hour traffic. (Ihsaan Haffejee, GroundUp)

She said the protest was also against the abductions and killings of young women, and about the safety of students generally.

"Rape culture and gender-based violence have become normalised. We are not shocked when we hear about it in the media.

But it is not normal, and we need to show society that this type of behaviour is abnormal," said Hassan.

She said they had received numerous complaints of students being mugged and robbed on Nelson Mandela Bridge, as they made their way to the nearby Bree Taxi Rank.

Students are demanding better security and police visibility, as well as secure transport to the various taxi ranks.

"Our students are mugged and their phones and laptops are stolen and this has an academic implication. If your laptop is stolen, you lose your notes and it makes it difficult to study off campus and to do assignments," said Hassan.

rape culture protest
Protesting students block the road as they march on Nelson Mandela Bridge. (Ihsaan Haffejee, GroundUp)

'Shoot us, shoot us'

"We should tell our boys, brothers, fathers, and men in general, that they are not entitled to women’s bodies, that they are not entitled to a woman’s attention, that no matter what a girl is wearing or where she’s walking, they are not entitled to take advantage of her or to exert power over her.

"If we can change the thinking of society we can breed a generation that’s far more progressive on these types of issues, and only this can lead to sustainable change," said Hassan.

Later in the afternoon, a scuffle broke out between students and police after an officer shoved a protesting student off the road for blocking traffic. Students reacted by confronting the small contingent of police, leading one metro policeman to draw his gun.

Some students lay on the ground and taunted the policeman by screaming, "Shoot us, shoot us". Another officer used pepper spray to keep students off the road.

Things calmed down when police directed traffic around the students, who continued to block a small section of the road, while others walked through traffic with their placards. Later, the students dispersed without incident.

Uyanda Kuzwayo, a politics student at Wits, said: "Just walking to this protest, we had to make sure that we as women left campus in a big group, for our own safety, which I feel is ironic as this is a protest promoting women’s safety in the area."

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  university protests

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