Female students will be marching from the library of the Central University of Technology’s (CUT) Bloemfontein campus to various management offices every Friday afternoon.
The feisty students are protesting on campus as they feel rape is not only a student or a women’s matter, but an issue that the institution needs to start paying attention to.
According to Netty Ramatlabana, one of the organisers of the ‘No Bra Protest’, students can only do so much.
They feel until the university’s management acknowledges that there is such a problem by running certain awareness programmes, they can say they have started to deal with the rape issue on campus.
She said higher learning institutions need to prioritise the prevention of rape occurring at campuses. Close to ten participants marched outside the CUT library building to different management offices on campus last week.
The march was a result of a dialogue that took place last week during a debate forum.
According to Ramatlabana, a large number of males thought women asked to get raped by the clothes they wear or by their behaviour.
“We basically decided that it doesn’t matter what any woman is wearing because anyone can get raped from any outskirts. We therefore decided to hold the protest. After we had that debate, people started to come out, both male and female, especially the gay community, and revealed that they have been raped, but they couldn’t say anything because they’re gay. They thought it would probably be seen as something unacceptable or unreal. Due to such instances, we thought that we should give a voice to other people and make the perpetrators uncomfortable,” she said.
Ramatlabana told Voice that they hope to un-silence and un-teach people who have the mentality that rape is something that doesn’t exist.
They hope to have a dialogue for people to speak about these issues, in order to start moving forward as a society.
Meanwhile, a third-year Language Practitioner student, Nthabiseng Mafata, believes a lot of people are very ignorant about rape. She said there are still people who don’t understand the difference between rape and sex.
“It was scary that a lot of people were shocked that there have been many students who have been raped on our campus. Gays and lesbians have also been raped and nothing is being done about that. We felt taking part in the march was very important; to show that we stand against rape. Nobody will do it if we don’t do it ourselves. This is the first of the many processes that we will be having. We feel even if we have to walk around naked, we will. Raping on our campuses is real, students have to be conscious of that and we have to start acting together.”
Mafata’s message to the rapists, is that they are taking so much away from their victims.
“Being invaded is not a nice feeling and no one asks to be raped. My message to rape victims is that they should go out there and tell their stories. They should also address the issue by reporting it to the police and also seek psychological help. Being ashamed of yourself because you don’t have sexual liberty as a woman and therefore you cannot speak out when you’re raped, will not help you at all. Go out there and speak,” she explained. – Refilwe Gaeswe