29 September 2023 | Story Nicole Bongo | Photo Supplied
The UFS held a KovsieCares GBV activation to raise awareness around gender-based violence and inform students about available support systems.

The University of the Free State (UFS) held a KovsieCares GBV Activation at the Thakaneng Bridge on its Bloemfontein Campus on 22 September 2023, as part of the university’s Bsafe campaign against gender-based violence (GBV).

The event was held to inform students about the numerous resources and support systems provided by the UFS to stop GBV and provide support to those affected by it.

Gernus Terblanche, one of the event's organisers from the Division of Student Affairs, emphasised the importance of the initiative, saying, “The activation is mainly focused on the education [around] gender-based violence, and we invited all of the offices that deal with GBV of all sorts. The idea for the activation is to spread awareness and education, and also relay information about the resources available.”

Terblanche said that students are often unaware of the free resources at their disposal, and choose to suffer in silence. One of the aims for the event was to coach students in how to address GBV issues and where to seek assistance if needed.

Mojalefa Rabolinyane, Assistant Officer at the Student Counselling and Development (SCD) Office, highlighted the wealth of free resources available to students. "We have different programmes at SCD that cater specifically to students,” she said. “If a student comes to our office with a case of GBV, the first thing we do is ensure they talk to a mental-healthcare professional to provide emotional support. Secondly, we work closely with the Protection Services to make it easier for students to report cases and file charges."

The organisers said various factors contribute to the prevalence of GBV, including substance abuse, gender roles, and societal pressures. They reiterated that the University of the Free State maintains a zero-tolerance policy towards gender-based violence, and a comprehensive support system is offered to aid victims of the scourge, including those affected by rape, sexual assault, and mental and physical abuse. 

For more information, please visit the kovsieLife page here.

You can also contact Gernus Terblanche at TerblancheGIDP@ufs.ac.za.

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