Wits students took a stand against sexual violence Wednesday, showing solidarity for survivors and raising awareness.
Sexual abuse, violence and rape is something that is a reality. The person sitting next to you in class could be a victim or a perpetrator. This week’s silent protest took a stand to break the cycle of silence.
A 3rd Year Law student speaking to WitsVuvuzela told how she was raped at a party in March this year. The person was not a stranger but rather one of her boyfriend’s friends. “I am doing this to break the cycle. Knowing I have a voice, and other women have a voice” she said.
One of the major issues the protest dealt with is the ‘shaming’ that takes place, when the victim might want to report it.
The student said when she reported it to the police their response was, because there was alcohol involved it simply comes down to her word against his.
A second Wits honours student also told her story of Sexual abuse. She was subject to sexual abuse by someone very close to her over an extended period of time. The abuse began when she was just 11 years old.
Unlike the first student she did not report the incident to the authorities. She said she was too ashamed and insecure to be able to talk about it.
Neither of the students sought any type of counselling. Bertrand Leopeng, an event organiser and an intern psychologist working at the CCDU said that they are starting a rape survivors group at the CCDU in order to accommodate students who require it.
The dean of students, Dr Pamela Dube, addressed the crowd at the start of the march, on Wednesday.
Reading a letter from one of the founders of the protest she said, “The testimony by survivors is eerily similar, whether it comes from a second year Wits student, or from a 70 year old Umlazi pensioner. All the stories speak of fear, of shame, of hopelessness. Very few of the stories feature the police, hardly any end with jail time for the perpetrators.”