A peaceful march against gender-based violence, under the theme: #HandsOffOurFirstYears, took place on 9th February starting at VUT Residences and ending at the Amphitheatre.
The campaign’s objectives were to show first-year students, particularly females, that there is support for them in the challenges they face on campus. “Students often come to our student support offices crying because of abuse they face on campus,” said psychometrist Khali Mbele. Among such issues are sexual harassment, rape, peer pressure and HIV. Ms Mbele said they wanted to deal with such issues proactively, hence the march.
Both male and female students participated in the event. “First-year students are unfamiliar with the environment and it’s our duty to ensure they don’t find themselves in situations they cannot get out of,” said Denis Mabunda, one of the representatives of Sisters’ Keepers.
“As a movement, we stand for justice for all and personal safety. We also look out for the psychological, emotional and physical needs of the students and refer to relevant offices. We host pillow talks for these young women and also supply sanitary towels to them,” said Esther Mosebi, Pastoral Counsellor at Chapel of Light at the Residences.
Amaze Nkateko, a student who took part in the march, said the campaign was a good idea because most people are not aware of the issues faced by female students.
The march was deemed a success as students now know where to go for emotional and psychological support. Organisers advised that “it is okay not to be okay sometimes and when you’re not okay, Chapel (016) 950 9744 and Student Counselling and Support is there for you”. Visit them at their office P021 or call them on (016) 950 9244.