28 November 2022 | Story Valentino Ndaba
UFS Unite Against Gender-based Violence
The UFS joins the movement to end gender-based violence during the 16 Days of Activism, which begin on 25 November and end on 10 December 2022.

25 November marks the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) campaign. As an institution that subscribes to the value of social justice, the University of the Free State (UFS) stands in support of the anti-gender-based violence campaign.

As embodied in Vision 130 – which is a vision of where the university sees itself in 2034 – social justice is one of the six immutable values of the institution. The 16 Days of Activism campaign resonates with the university’s pursuit of social justice, reduction of inequality, and commitment to practices that grant human dignity to everybody.

UFS academic, Dr Claire Westman, is one of the many voices at the UFS who stands in support of anti-GBV. “This is not a problem isolated to the South African context. According to the United Nations, violence against women and girls (VAWG) remains the most widespread and pervasive human rights violation, worldwide affecting more than an estimated one in three women, a figure that has remained largely unchanged over the past decade. The most recent global estimates showed that, on average, a woman or girl is killed by someone in her own family every 11 minutes,” she said. 

More needs to be done

According to Dr Westman, it is evident that we cannot combat GBV or protect women and girls from the epidemic by relying on inefficient and frequently patriarchal justice systems. Consequently, the theme for this year’s 16 Days of Activism campaign: UNITE! Activism to eliminate violence against women and girls calls for global action to enhance awareness, increase advocacy efforts, and share information and ideas. 

“While legal frameworks, effective justice systems, and serious government responses to VAWG are incredibly necessary, it is also vital that the ideologies that create the conditions in which VAWG flourishes and is often even condoned, must be addressed. For this, awareness, education, accountability, and activism are necessary,” she added.

Where to report GBV at the UFS 

The Sexual Offence Response Team (SORT), which is made up of business units from all three campuses of the university, is housed in the Gender and Sexual Equality office. SORT follows a predetermined process flow when providing legal, medical, and counselling services to victims of gender-based violence, with the main goal of minimising trauma for the victim. The team is available on a 24/7 toll-free line: 0800 204 682.

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