Issues of Gender-Based Violence At Universities Must Be Tackled

Leaders at universities across South Africa are looking to tackle issues of gender-based violence through opening conversations surrounding this topic during Women’s Month. The Vice Chancellor of the Tshwane University of Technology has noted the importance of finding strategies and solutions to put an end to this violence.

As South Africa celebrates women during the month of August, conversations surrounding women empowerment are being held at various institutions.

At a Women Leadership Forum event that took place on 3 August the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Tinyiko Maluleke chose to focus on the gender-based violence women face in the country, as well as the silencing these women face in society including universities.

Maluleke titled his message: “Daring to Disturb the Sounds of Silence: Tackling Gender-Based Violence in Universities” and focused on the need to rally men in South Africa in a national effort to put an end to gender-based violence at universities.

In his speech he reflected on the 20 000 women who marched to the Union Building in 1956 under the Apartheid regime, applauding their fearlessness but also noting how women have continued to be silenced since then.

The Professor mentioned the different ways in which women have been silenced. Some have their work silenced as they don’t receive credit for their efforts while others may choose to be silent so that they can live to see another day.

According to Maluleke, universities must be educated on both the silencing and the silences of women and the LGBTQI+ communities in order to fight against gender-based violence.

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He urged men specifically at universities to be a part of the solution against gender-based violence, instead of being part of the problem.

Maluleke believes it is also necessary to understand why women are absent within the university system in terms of its ranks, structures, processes, and its policies.

The Professor suggested that:

We need the epistemological language, the theoretical eyes, and astute ears to hear, to see and to articulate the absences through which women are present, and the silences through which women are speaking in the academy. Their voices will be heard.

He noted that crimes of men against women in the country could not be explained in terms of race, ethnicity, or class.

Maluleke explained that these crimes and violence may not only be in the form of rape, murder, or assault but that women also face violence in the form of biases and unequal opportunities at universities. He emphasized that these crimes must be stopped.

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