South Africa has taken an important step towards addressing gender-based violence in higher education institutions.
Higher Health South Africa on Friday released a set of instruments, guidelines and protocols that will help transform the GBV Policy framework in practical implementation on campuses of higher education institutions.
The document containing these protocols was published during a webinar on GBV in the higher education sector.
The instruments provide guidance to all higher education institutions and leadership to operationalize the infrastructure necessary for a comprehensive response to cases of sexual and gender misconduct, rape and sexual assault.
It will help transform the sector GBV Policy framework – launched by the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Innovation last year – in action through the implementation of guidelines on sexual and gender misconduct in education and post-school training (PSET) establishments; implementation of the protocol on cases of rape and sexual assault, and implementation of the protocol on PSET Code of ethics.
In collaboration with the judicial and police services, the guidelines and protocols will ensure the reporting of cases; maintenance of disciplinary systems; safeguarding of evidence; provision of rape kits; psychosocial support services and adapted infrastructure for survivors are deployed throughout the sector.
Higher health CEO, Professor Ramneek Ahluwalia, said that the GBV The policy framework pushes each higher education institution to equip itself with structures, infrastructures, systems and controls when it comes to GBV, as was done with HIV and helpers, and with the current the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ahluwalia said early diagnosis and detection of abusive relationships will only be achieved through education and prevention programs.
“There is a lot of work to be done… We also have to be ready… to intervene… [to] Stop GBV on our campuses. For this we need to put in place structures, policies, infrastructure, systems and controls [including] the safeguarding of evidence, if a case of assault, rape or GBV is happening on our campuses.
Ahluwalia said capacity is needed in the form of security, support for survivors (including setting up safe rooms, psychosocial support) and close partnerships with the judiciary to ensure justice is served.
Understand threats and behaviors within institutions
UN Women Cluster Office South Africa representative Anne Githuku-Shongwe said ensuring that men and women in higher education institutions can operate freely requires knowing and understanding what the threats are. and behavior inside and outside the establishment.
Githuku-Shongwe said the leaders of each higher education institution should ensure that they do not have any cases of GBV under their supervision.
From a prevention perspective, Githuku-Shongwe stressed the need to be able to identify norms, beliefs and stereotypes that perpetuate violence in and around universities and colleges.
“We have to understand this… [by doing some] very close profiling and mapping, and conducting targeted conversations and processes [to] make sure we can make a real difference.
“We have to get into the heads of the young men and boys in our institutions to truly understand and provide them with the support they need to be able to carry out this work,” said Githuku-Shongwe.
She said there needs to be proper follow-up, perhaps quarterly, to reflect on the work being done at the institution level.
“At UN Women, we’re going to stand here to provide that support. We will continue to provide the technical support necessary for the deployment of the follow-up of this GBV Policy framework. We want to continue working with you to coordinate safer cities and public spaces… ”she said.
Silence is not gold
President of Haute Santé GBV Technical task and vice-chancellor of the University of South Africa, Professor Puleng LenkaBula, called for a culture of zero tolerance towards all cases of GBV on campus and in society.
LenkaBula said that there should be no silence of the voices of those who are agitating against violence.
“A culture of silence often creates room for this terrible behavior and violence. Create platforms for people [address issues] should be something campuses allow, and they should allow reporting of sexual violence, sexual harassment, GBV, or any act preventing the full participation of [all]”said LenkaBula.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the South African government.
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