News & events


Sexual Violence on University Campuses: The Limits and Possibilities of Protest

10 August 2016
12:15 - 14:00


Hlengiwe Ndlovu      
University of the Witwatersrand

Mbali Matandela       
Researcher, Writer, Activist

Nonhle Ayanda Skosana
Rhodes University

Irene De Vos
General Councel of the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI)

Benita Moolman
Human and Social Dynamics Research Programme (HSD), Human Sciences Research Council

Date:     10 August 2016
Time:     12:15  – 14:00
Venues:      Video Conference Venues – Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town
Rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment are different forms situated along a continuum of sexual violence. Survivors (both women and men) of sexual violence (irrespective of the form it takes) experience similar forms of psychological and emotional trauma. In South Africa, rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment is often understood as separate crimes of violence, with different consequences and penalties. The problem with this thinking is that as a society we allow lesser forms of sexual violence such as sexual assault and sexual harassment to continue and we become complicit in its perpetuation. Recently, young South African women have declared enough is enough on university campuses and organised countrywide protests. The #RUReference List at Rhodes University as well as the #Chapter 212 campaigns have highlighted the inadequacy of university systems to address, respond to and prevent sexual violence.

These campaigns have highlighted that there is an unwillingness to deal with sexual violence speedily and to institute justice for survivors of sexual violence on university campuses. It seems, that men found guilty of sex offending are allowed to remain as students and/or academic staff, and inadvertently become protected by ‘the system’. The protests have been a plea and a demand that we need a new ethos for the respect of women’s bodies (even on university campuses), and urgent attention and reform on enabling justice for survivors of sexual violence.

At this seminar, we ask:
What did the protests achieve?
Have there been shifts in university management’s response to dealing with sexual violence? How have they been held accountable?
Are there alternative forms of activism that is required?
What are the next steps?

HSRC seminar series is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). The views and opinions expressed therein  as well as findings and statements of the seminar series do not necessarily represent the views of DST.

Kindly RSVP by 09 August 2016

Cape Town : HSRC, 12th Floor, Plein Park Building (Opposite Revenue Office), Plein Street, Cape Town. Contact Jean Witten, Tel (021) 4668004, Fax (021) 461 0299, or

Durban :  First floor HSRC board room, 750 Mary Thipe Street, Ntuthuko Junction, Pods 5 and 6, Cato Manor, Contact Ridhwaan Khan, Tel (031) 242 5400, cell: 083 788 2786 or , or Hlengiwe Zulu at e-mail

Pretoria : HSRC Video Conference, 1st floor HSRC Library Human Sciences Research Council, 134 Pretorius Street, Pretoria. Arlene Grossberg, Tel: (012) 302 2811, e-mail: