Students and staff from the Durban University of Technology (DUT) took a firm stand against Gender-Based Violence and showed their support to victims and survivors of Gender-Based Violence by attending the 9th Annual Silent Protest. The event, which was hosted by the university’s HIV and AIDS Centre, took place at the DUT Sports Centre at the Steve Biko campus on Wednesday, 20 September 2023.
This year’s event themed: “I refuse to be silent! Where are we safe?” commenced with a peaceful march from Gate three on Steve Biko campus, to the DUT Sports Centre, for the formal proceedings of the event.
Delivering the welcome remarks was Dr Naseem Haniff, Director: Student Counselling and Health at DUT. She mentioned how Gender-Based Violence had become a national scourge as the atrocious acts of violence are shared on the national news, on a daily basis.
“The theme of this year’s Silent Protest was ‘I refuse to be silent, Where are we safe’. This was intended to raise awareness of the alarming rates of Gender-Based Violence in our country, and a call to action for our university community to support one another, and to call for an end to sexual violence,” shared Dr Haniff.
She further explained that the Silent Protest was a symbolic gesture, where participants remain silent to demonstrate their disapproval of Gender-Based Violence. Dr Haniff indicated that it was a powerful tool to indicate in a public forum, how silent organisations, societies and even families are, around issues of sexual violence, allowing it to permeate and to flourish. She emphasised that the silence around Gender-Based Violence must be broken.
Sharing the same sentiments was the Dean of Students at DUT, Dr Clement Moreku, who stated that the Silent Protest had aimed to raise awareness not only about Gender-Based Violence but also to show solidarity with survivors of violence, making reference to university students across South Africa who have sadly passed on, due to being victims of Gender-Based Violence in the last few years.
“Students of the LGBTI community continue to be constant victims of Gender-Based Violence through a form of bullying, harassment, including sexual assault, derogatory comments and ostracism. Yet, when these cases are reported, they are not given enough attention as those of their heterosexual counter parts. Therefore, DUT wants to ensure that over and above raising awareness, there are measures in place to assist victims and survivors of Gender-Based Violence, guided by the Sexual Harassment Policy,” added Dr Moreku.
Dr Mzwandile Khumalo, Siyaphumela Institutional lead and a DUT Teaching, Learning and Development Practitioner, shared a brief discussion on the impact of Gender-Based Violence on student success. He encouraged students to speak up against any form of violence, as the university aims to provide a safe environment for its people (staff and students).
In closing, Mr Sihle Mbanjwa, Acting Director: Student Counselling and Health at DUT Midlands, thanked all the speakers and students for their support and contribution in making the event a success.
Pictured: DUT students and staff during the Silent Protest.
Photographer: Khulasande Tshayile