“Sexual and GBV is not just rape or harassment, it is catcalling, and unwanted sexual jokes” Sophia Sideras-Haddad.

Amnesty International Wits started a campaign on Monday July 29 to bring awareness of sexual and gender-based violence (GBV) to Wits campuses.

The campaign includes a panel discussion, the display of posters across campuses and painting a wall to spread awareness about the advocacy campaign.

Alwande Khumalo, head of the women’s subcommittee of Amnesty International Wits, told Wits Vuvuzela that sexual and GBV is “an abuse of human rights that everyone speaks about, but no one really acts on”.

The campaign is “a response to the heightened levels of sexual and gender-based violence we have seen throughout South Africa”, said Khumalo, mainly focusing on Wits University.

By looking at the university’s policies on GBV, Amnesty International Wits is attempting to conduct research alongside the campaign to see how effective and practical the university’s policies are.

“Even though there is no data available to students, there is enough anecdotal evidence to show that this phenomenon is prevalent in our community,” said Amnesty International Wits chairperson Sophia Sideras-Haddad.

Amnesty International University Pretoria (UP) plans to run an advocacy campaign similar to that undertaken by Amnesty International Wits.

Beloved Sechele, a volunteer at Amnesty International UP and LLB student, told Wits Vuvuzela she hopes the campaign will increase the conversation people have about sexual and GBV.

“I do not think it is dealt with in the depth it deserves,” said the LLB student.

“It is time to have this conversation on sexual and gender-based violence,” said Lebogang Kotane, head of Amnesty International Wits’ Gender and Sexuality subcommittee.

Amnesty International Wits is still in the process of receiving ethical and formal clearance from the university to conduct research.

Partnered with Amnesty International South Africa, Amnesty International Wits’ advocacy campaign on sexual and gender-based violence at Wits will run for a year, beginning in Women’s Month 2019, and will conclude in Women’s Month 2020.

FEATURED IMAGE: Members of Amnesty Wits stand behind their campaign. Photo: Tumelo Modiba