By Jen Thorpe
This week I received correspondence from UCT that a student had been raped off campus. The email stated that the incident had happened around 10am on Saturday (14th April) morning, and that the SAPS had assisted the survivor. This email also positively stated that UCT had offered the student and her family counselling and would support them throughout the process. It was wonderful to read that UCT recognised that families also need support in order to support survivors. They also usefully provided the Campus Protection Unit (CPU) telephone number, and encouraged students to store it on their phones.
However, one line in the email was extremely displeasant to read.
“We wish to alert you to the incident and remind you that it is important to remain vigilant at all times.”
It is this sentence that has encouraged me to write to UCT in response. I have sent through the email to the communications department at UCT, and I would like to give UCT an opportunity to respond to my email before I post its full content here.
I am however disappointed that instead of simply giving empowering information about the availability of CPU services, or reiterating that UCT does not tolerate violence against its women students on or off campus, they instead entered the common victim-blaming discourse that suggests that vigilance could protect against rape, in the rape capital of the world.
*please note, originally the post stated the dates of the incident was 21 April. This has been corrected.