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14 June 2018 Photo iStock
Dealing with the trauma of sexual assault

University life is supposed to be one of the most enjoyable times of a person’s life. Unfortunately, for some this is the time they may fall victims to sexual assault.
 
The term sexual assault has shockingly become normalised in society and has become a common threat to university students. The University of the Free State (UFS) through its sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and sexual violence policy strongly condemns any form of sexual abuse. Dr Melissa Barnaschone, Director at Student Counselling and Development (UFS) says the university cares for the health and wellbeing of students and provides necessary support for victims of sexual assault and trauma.
 
It is unfortunate that sexual assault comes with many misconceptions that often shift responsibility and blame from the perpetrator to the victim. “It is important to always remember that it is not your fault; do not blame yourself,” says Dr Barnaschone. Helpguide.Org: Trusted guide to mental & emotional health says sexual assault leaves psychological wounds and sometimes long-lasting health challenges. Such trauma can severely affect a person’s ability to cope with daily academic, social, professional, and personal responsibilities.
 
Any sexual violence is a crime and as a victim, you are not to blame. Healing is achieved when you start to believe that you are not responsible for what happened to you. Visit Helpguide.Org for more information on post-traumatic stress disorder, trauma recovery tips and other related topics.

On this video clip, Dr Barnaschone shares some guidelines to deal with sexual assault and trauma: 

News Archive

Democracy and traditional leadership in rural areas explored
2017-09-22

Description: Democracy Tags: Democracy, customary law, human rights, research, constitution 

Prof Lungisile Ntsebeza, recipient of the NRF Hamilton
Naki Award
Photo: Supplied


The Free State Centre for Human Rights held a presentation by Prof Lungisile Ntsebeza on 7 September 2017 at the University of the Free State (UFS) Bloemfontein Campus on the topic of democracy and traditional leadership in rural areas. Prof Ntsebeza is the holder of the AC Jordan Chair in African Studies at the University of Cape Town and the holder of the National Research Foundation (NRF) Research Chair in Land Reform and Democracy in South Africa. 

Conflict between democracy and traditional rule
The topic of democracy and traditional leadership in the rural areas is an example of the tension between democracy and customary law governing the appointment of traditional leaders (headmen) that is currently at play in many parts of the country. Prof Ntsebeza made reference to a court case in the Eastern Cape, where a community successfully challenged the appointment of a headman by the royal family of the area. The contention was whether royal families could appoint headmen in rural communities or if those communities ought to democratically elect their own leaders. He argued that in this specific case, the democratic imperatives of the Constitution did not conflict with customary law because of the particular communal practice of electing leaders. 

The Constitution and customary law

The Constitution of South Africa recognises customary law provisions which are not in conflict with its fundamental values. Difficult legitimacy problems may arise where customary practices are different from those governing this particular case. Ultimately the Constitutional Court would be called upon to resolve inherent tensions and develop customary law in line with the direction foreseen in the Constitution.

Student engagement as a vehicle for change
The event was attended by UFS staff and fourth-year LLB students in the Faculty of Law, and was funded by the Free State Centre for Human Rights at UFS. The programme is one of several that the centre seeks to utilise in engaging students with researchers and scholars in the field of law and human rights. Prof Ntsebeza has given academic presentations on various related and trending topics in the current academic climate, such as decolonising the curriculum, Cecil John Rhodes and others. He was recently awarded the Hamilton Naki Award at the 2017 National Research Foundation Awards.

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