Gender-based violence is a significant yet preventable barrier to gender equality. In response to the rising threat of gender-based violence in the country as a whole, Stellenbosch University has taken its zero tolerance approach of the matter to a new level.
To prevent and address this critical issue, the university recently made an announcement that a gender non-violence response will be setup through which matters related to gender based violence will be coordinated and monitored. The decision follows the release of the SU EndRapeCulture Report 2017.
Based on the findings and recommendations of the report, the Equality Unit (EqU), based at the Centre for Student Counselling and Development within Division Student Affairs, proposed the formation of a Gender Non-Violence & Rape Culture portfolio to address some of the major challenges raised in the report.
According to Mr. Jaco Greeff Brink, Head of the EqU, a dedicated Gender Non-Violence Coordinator will be appointed for a three year period starting from January 2018 and will avail their services to all SU staff and students.
“One of the major responsibilities of this portfolio is to come up with a comprehensive institutional response to gender violence and rape culture at SU", said Brink. He added that SU management's approval of this new position is an indication that it views gender non-violence and an end to rape culture as strategically important to SU.
Brink also added that appointing a coordinator only speaks to one component of the report's recommendations but says moving forward, strategic partnerships will be forged with other key stakeholders such as the Transformation Office, Human Resources, Campus Security and a proposed monitoring committee.
“This is very critical in our shared responsibility and response to pervasive issues around gender violence", he concluded.
The new portfolio will be under the auspices of EqU which promotes collective action towards social justice and discourse regarding social asymmetries at SU. The EqU is grounded in the understanding that in order to achieve greater societal equality we should use a process of equity to achieve this outcome. The unit also coordinates complaints of unfair discrimination and harassment as well as implements a comprehensive institutional HIV/Aids response.