13 November 2018 Photo Moeketsi Mogotsi
Campaigns are a loudhailer on violence
Kovsies took an active stance against sexual and gender-based violence through various campaigns in October.

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President Cyril Ramaphosa recently announced that South Africa will launch a national strategic plan to tackle gender-based violence (GBV) after years of lobbying by activists. Speaking at the Presidential GBV Summit, the head of state commended activists who called for a nationwide shut down in August in response to high levels of GBV and femicide in the country. He says the government is now reviewing national GBV plans and will develop a national action plan.

Activism at the UFS

One of the efforts launched by the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Gender and Sexual Equity (GSE) Office in the fight against this plague is the # RESPECTME campaign. From 11 to 26 October 2018, the university held its own 16 Days of Activism.

Geraldine Lengau of the GSE Office believes that minority groups deserve the same amount of respect as all other citizens of this country, which is the core concept of the campaign. “The Campaign is a loudhailer to say, ‘just because I am different from you’, be it gender or sexuality, it doesn’t mean that I deserve any less respect,” she highlighted.

Lengau added: “Activism will forever remain important on our campuses as it creates an environment where the community is made aware of matters that would otherwise not have mattered had they not been publicised. Also activism becomes all the more important in advancing the university’s strategic plan.”

Policies advocating against GBV

As stipulated in the UFS Sexual Harassment, Misconduct and Sexual Violence Policy the university strongly believes in the principle of human dignity that is entrenched in the Constitution of South Africa (1996) which resolves to ensure a safe working and study environment for students. 

Student Affairs also led a campaign which aimed to highlight the ongoing scourge of sexual and gender-based violence, in line with the policy. “The university is working relentlessly at endorsing the aspects and characteristic traits of respect amongst all of its stakeholders in an effort to reduce the notion of gender-based violence,” said the Dean of Student Affairs, Pura Mgolombane.

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