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03 October 2018 | Story UFS | Photo Katlego Sekele
Empowering students to speak up about sexual violations
Students engaged authorities and Student Affairs representatives on sexual and gender-based matters.

Do you know enough about the Sexual Harassment, Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Violence policy adopted by the university in June 2018? The Office for Gender and Sexual Equity (GSE) at the University of the Free State (UFS) hosted a dialogue on the role of the institution in matters of sexual and gender-based violence and addressing issues surrounding sexual violations. 

Developments such as the countrywide #TotalShutdown: Intersectional Women’s March Against Gender-based Violence last month serve as proof of the dire need for issues surrounding sexual violations to inform policies and active safety measures.

Policy purpose

According to the policy, the objectives are to create a safe and enabling environment, establish a common understanding of what constitutes sexual harassment, sexual misconduct and sexual violence, provide applicable and accurate information, ensure that victims receive the necessary support, clearly outline disciplinary procedures for perpetrators, and clarify institutional accountability.

Student’s take on solutions

Tammy Fray, a member of the Student Representative Council, who formed part of the panel at the discussion, says the policy is not a one-stop-shop solution. “The policy is a guiding document. We have to then use it to inform activist work. We cannot always put the onus on policies and codes of conducts to solve problems. However it is our responsibility within this academic space to come up with solutions that enhance the way the policy works.”

Be informed about the policy

It is important to understand the stipulations of the policy in order to make full use of it. Geraldine Lengau, Officer at the GSE said: “It’s important that students know that the institution is not operating in silos but that their demands have been heard and the institution has acknowledged that there is a need for the policy to be adopted. It also makes the process of reporting better with the assistance of the Sexual Assault Response Team coordinator.”

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