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Wits Junction women begin a #NAMEANDSHAME campaign against sexual harassment

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Zamayirha Peter
July27/ 2017

Wits Junction women residents begin a campaign for the women in the residence to #NAMEANDSHAME their alleged perpetrators of sexual harassment.

Women at the Wits Residence begin an in-house campaign against sexual harassment.

Wits Junction house-committee along with the women at the residence are starting a campaign encouraging female residents to #NAMEANDSHAME their perpetrators of sexual harassment.

Alicia Ashburner, Gender, grievance and transformation officer at the Wits Junction said that the campaign was strictly for the women in the residence. “We as the women at Junction decided to provide a platform for women to share their experiences of sexual harassment. And a platform to speak about issues of safety and to discuss protocol around how to handle incident of sexual harassment”. She added that the platform would not be made public. “No photos or videos will be taken. The naming and shaming would also remain within the space.”

Ashburner indicated that many incidents are occurring at the Wits Junction but the residence management has not been responding with enough urgency to them. In some instances they have been kept on the low. “One student was suspended last block after incidents of sexual harassment had surfaced,” she said.

Ashburner hopes that the campaign will contribute towards making women feel safe again. “Doing your laundry at night should not leave you anxious because you fear that some guy will come and harass you… Johannesburg is not safe but Junction shouldn’t fall under the same category,” she says.

A recent case early this month had made news on social media involving a fifth year medical student who had made allegations of sexual harassment about her partner, student leader Kamvelihle Goba. Hillbrow spokesperson Mduduzi Zondo said a case of assault was laid against Goba but he was not yet arrested as “they don’t know his whereabouts”.

Crystal Dicks from the Gender and Equity Office (GEO) indicated that the case was reported to the office. “The GEO process is complainant led and we work with what the complainant wants. It is their process and the GEO respects this. For obvious reasons cases reported are confidential. In terms of addressing allegations related to gender based harm at the Junction and other residences, the GEO has a comprehensive programme that has been shared with the student community and which is up for discussion on the 5 August with residence student leadership”.

Thokozani Manyange, Wits Parktown cluster manager and Wits Junction building manager said he was unavailable for a comment and directed us to the Head of Wits Residence Rob Sharman. Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela, Sharman said “We were told of a rumour of sexual harassment yesterday. No details of the victims were given. We take action when instances of sexual harassment come to our attention by referring them to the GEO.”

Sharman later confirmed that an incident had been reported to the GEO office. “Details are not normally publicised at this stage and my office does not have specific details on the matter. We will never the less continue to urge all victims of sexual harassment to report such incidents to GEO and depending upon the advice of the GEO residence management will take appropriate action”.

Sharman hopes the #NAMEANDSHAME campaign will encourage students to come forward to the GEO office. “It is important that victims come forward and report all incidents of gender based harm,” he added.

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Zamayirha Peter