AS GENDER-BASED violence and femicide plagues the country, students from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), Pietermaritzburg campus, held a night vigil on Tuesday, September 3 to mourn women who recently died because of femicide, celebrate the strength of rape survivors, and also pray for this national crisis.
The sheer number of femicide and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) cases recently have sent shockwaves throughout the country; an horrific end to Women’s Month.
Unathi Dimane, secretary of the Student Representative Council (SRC) at the UKZN PMB campus, said another reason for the night vigil was because the campus has the highest number of rape cases in the province.
“Six weeks ago we held a march because of five rape cases that happened in one week on our campus but there was no male participation in that march. However, with this night vigil, we saw the presence of men who participated, confessed their abusive behaviour and admitted they are not doing enough to ensure the safety of women in the community,” said Dimane.
According to Dimane, although the vigil was a success, they haven’t found practical solutions to this ongoing problem. “We have been marching, handing over memorandums to our campus director regarding rape cases. We don’t know who to cry to or what to do anymore,” she said.
Campus director Professor Albert Modi said it is very encouraging to see students standing firm in what they believe in, more so because a number of female students from the campus have experienced GBV from male students and lecturers.
“Under the leadership of Unathi Dimane, our female students continue to fight this problem and emphasise its seriousness,” said Modi, who added that management of the campus and its lecturers had to start playing a role in the fight.
“We have to be part of the movement. The SRC secretary also suggested there should also be a students’ community policing forum as well as a Charter which provides a clear and concise set of policies, aims and objectives of the university. We are behind the suggestion and we have forwarded the suggestion so that it can be adopted by the university on a national level,” said Modi.
“We are planning programmes such as Masikhulume [Let’s converse], which we think may play an important role in ensuring no student is quiet about abuse or issues they are facing.”