On Friday 19 April thousands of volunteers, both women and men, will participate in the 7th annual ‘Sexual Violence = Silence’ Protest. The protest, organised by Rhodes University’s Dean of Students Office, aims to show solidarity with rape survivors who are silenced by sexual violence. For the first time since its inception the Grahamstown protest will be joined by protests at WITS and UKZN. There will also be a RUSilent: Speak Out Cape Town event featuring a gathering in the Company Gardens.
DETAILS OF THE MAIN PROTEST – RHODES:
19 April from 06h00 – 21h00
Alec Mullins Hall, Rhodes University, African Street, Grahamstown, Eastern Cape
For details of all other national protests see below.
BACKGROUND ON THE PROTEST:
For the past 7 years activists at Rhodes University have staged the Silent Protest in order to draw public attention to rape and to demand better services for survivors. Government crime statistics reveal that 65 000 sexual assaults were reported in SA last year. Of these only 6.5% are successfully prosecuted and less than half of 1% of perpetrators will serve any jail-time. All studies agree that the vast majority never report the crime to the police and there are many statistics available focusing on the ratio of reporting to non-reporting of rape survivors: the most conservative estimate comes from Rape Crisis (1 in 4) and the most shocking comes from the SAPS (1 in 25). These statistics translate to anywhere from 260 000 to over 1.5 million rapes annually.
These numbers are unacceptable. Rape limits human potential; it silences people, makes them feel less than human, keeps them afraid and creates isolation. Our protest on the 19th of April affirms our solidarity with the millionssilenced by rape and sexual violence. Freedom of Speech is denied to victims of sexual violence. Despite the laws and policies that have been put in place, patriarchal attitudes and misogynist practice render laws and policies meaningless in the lives of many rape survivors. Survivors face victim-blaming, secondary victimisation and social stigma when they speak out about the violence they have experienced. State service providers do not always respect the rights of rape survivors and fail to comply with norms and standards set out in national legislation and policy; these are just some of the reasons why reporting of rape cases remains low.
PURPOSE OF THE PROTEST:
1. to highlight the silence around sexual violence and the state’s inability or unwillingness to support rape survivors and successfully prosecute rapists.
2. to symbolise all rape survivors whose voices are silenced by rape and to represent the millions of rape survivors who do not report their violation.
FORMAT OF THE PROTEST:
There are THREE different kinds of participation in the day-long protest on 19 April:
- · Silent: T-shirts with ‘sexual violence causes silence’ on the front & explanation on the back (gagged all day, no food or water)
- · Rape survivors: T-shirts with ‘rape survivor’ on the front & explanation on the back
- · Solidarity: T-shirts with ‘STOP violence against women: the power of change is in our hands’ on the front & explanation on the back
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
|RUSilent Protest Spokesperson:
Rhodes Student Services Officer
0824305707 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Aimee de la Harpe
Gender Action Project
WITS Intern Psychologist
0117179140 or Lauren.Gmeiner@wits.ac.za
UKZN Final Year LLB Student
0840314365 or email@example.com
Speak Out Cape Town Co-Organiser