VUT HOST WORKSHOP TO TACKLE GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE
By: Nontobeko Moimane- 01 June 2023
Gender based violence (GBV) has adverse emotional and psycho-social effects on its survivors. In South Africa, like the rest of many parts of the world, incidents of gender-based violence are reported on a daily basis, and institutions of higher learning as microcosm of society are not exempted from this.
Recently, the Vaal University of Technology (VUT)’s Social Justice, and Transformation Department in collaboration with the Institutional HIV & AIDS Unit (IHAU) held a Gender Based Violence Workshop to tackle this societal illness. This is one of the VUT’s commitment to eliminate the scourge of GBV on its campus – and as an institution that walks the talk, a draft policy to regulate staff and student conduct both on -and- off campus, has been developed. The University has also adopted a zero-tolerance stance on gender-based violence and is committed to a safe environment for all – this is underpinned by one of the goals outlined on the institution’s Integrated Transformation Plan (ITP) that places emphasis on social inclusion, safety, and cohesion.
The purpose of the workshop included establishing the extent of reported GBV, harassment, unfair discrimination and LGBTQIA+ reported incidents, and to understand the different roles played by various responder departments to reported incidents and get to grips with the bottlenecks encountered in the speedy response to reported incidents. The workshop also sought to canvass considered input into the draft VUT Gender Based Violence, LGBTQIA+, Unfair Discrimination and Harassment Policy, and to formulate an integrated institutional response to GBV; to assess the level of resourcing and interventions in placed in the fight against GBV, as well as laying a solid foundation for the approval of the VUT Draft GBV, LGBTQIA+, Unfair Discrimination and Harassment Policy.
Invited guest, Ms Geraldine Lengau who is the Senior Officer and Admitted Attorney at the University of Free State (UFS)’s Unit for Institutional Change and Social Justice, shed insights from the draft policies at UFS relating to GBV, subject to University Council approval. She added that institutions of higher learning have been mandated by the Minister of Higher Education to have an established gender-based violence or gender equity office on their respective campuses. “The Community of Practice is working against gender-based violence in South African institutions of higher learning to protect staff and students by developing and enhancing policies on gender identity and sexual orientation” stated Ms Lengau. She gave guidance and pointers based on the draft VUT gender-based violence policy and how it can be improved.
Various internal stakeholders dealing with gender-based violence within the institution gave presentations on what they do to assist staff and students affected by GBV. The presentations were followed by a question-and-answer session.