HEAIDS comment on the latest reports regarding Gender Based Violence at South African university campuses

It is with deep concern that HEAIDS has noted the latest reports regarding gender based violence on campuses within our higher education sector. Recent news informed us about the killing of a female student at Mangosuthu University of Technology, and we have also noted the news on social media of the rape case of a student at the University of KwaZulu Natal.

Sadly these reports are not an exception, which is the reason why HEAIDS was tasked with the development of a policy framework to address gender based violence at universities and colleges, which is likely to be gazetted in the third quarter of 2018.The first draft of the policy was completed and circulated for comment at the end of 2017. In addition to all current legislation on GBV, the framework provides a set of standards and guidelines for universities and colleges in the public and private sectors to take civil action against perpetrators of GBV on campus, whether the perpetrators be students or staff.

Gender-based forms of violence interfere with students’ studies and careers, corrupt the integrity of the education system, undermine the development of knowledge and erode constitutional rights to equality, dignity and freedom from all forms of violence. Universities and colleges do not have to wait for the State to institute criminal proceedings against perpetrators. They have the power and the responsibility to impose civil sanctions and should ensure that campuses are safe for students.

 HEAIDS encourages every South African involved in any way in the higher education sector to read the policy and join the conversation at our dialogues and on our social media platforms. In tandem with the development of the policy framework, GBV programming is a priority and aims to deter and prevent gender based violence. A detailed prevention and care programme is being developed to support the implementation of the policy framework.