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UWC in rape firing line

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UWC Fees Will Fall movement has accused the university’s management of being silent on incidents of sexual assault against students at the institution, and has launched a rape awareness campaign on campus.

The group claims that four women were sexually violated over three days last month, and several students participated in a protest on the campus on Friday under the banner #3Days4Girls.

The campaign comes soon after the #RUReferenceList of alleged rapists at Rhodes University caused a stir on social media and sparked debate acrossthe country.

A UWC Fees Will Fall member, who didn’t want to be named, said the incidents had occurred in residences from April 22 to 24.

“No e-mails were sent out to warn the campus community about what’s going on. The university’s management has been silent. They only respond when our fees are outstanding or when students cause damage on campus. They don’t care about us as students.”

On Friday, the office of the deputy vice-chancellor: student development and support said the university has policies, relevant structures, guidelines and implementation strategies in place to assist students who have been sexually harassed, or raped. “Regrettably, on Tuesday, we were apprised of an alleged sexual assault that took place on Sunday 24 April 2016 between two acquaintances.”

It stated that the matter had been reported to the police and that an investigation was under way.

“However, the university has instituted its own internal processes. A vice-rector tribunal has already been conducted and the alleged perpetrator has since been suspended and banned from campus pending internal investigation.”

University spokesman Luthando Tyhalibongo said no other sexual assault cases on the dates highlighted by the group had been reported to the university.

According to the communique, the university supported calls for dialogues on safety on campus and the deputy vice-chancellor: student development and support, Professor Pamela Dube, had met with the students who had raised their concerns during Friday’s protest.

Meetings to discuss effective ways to improve the safety of students, especially female students, were expected to be held today.

The rector, Professor Tyrone Pretorius, had reiterated his commitment to ensuring that the university was a safe space where female students in particular could feel safe to live and learn.

“The University of the Western Cape condemns rape, sexual abuse/harassment and any form of violence.

“UWC exercises zero tolerance towards any form of sexual harassment and sexual abuse and will pursue all means necessary to intervene decisively should any of these acts occur,” it stated.

Cape Argus

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