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Joint action against gender violence

Stellenbosch University (SU) and Stellenbosch Municipality are joining forces against the scourge of gender-based violence.

This was the outcome of a meeting last Friday of the Rector-Mayor Forum, a joint structure that facilitates collaboration between the two institutions to the benefit of the town and its people.

“We must muster all our resources in the fight against gender-based violence,” SU Vice-Rector for social impact, transformation and personnel Prof Nico Koopman said.

He explained that the SU and municipality will jointly combat the problem on four fronts.

“Firstly, security is being tightened. We will use our cooperation in the Stellenbosch Monitoring and Advisory Committee on Crime (MACC), in which the South African Police Service also participates, to do so.

“Secondly, both institutions will use every opportunity to build a culture of peace. Measures against gender-based violence must become part of our vocabulary and our interaction. We will put it on the agenda and have joint forums and workshops.

“Thirdly, we will do our utmost to combat binge drinking on campus and in town because alcohol abuse is a big risk factor.

“And fourthly, we will take symbolic action together to build solidarity so that we can stand united as a community.”

The municipality has joined the Thursdays-in-Black campaign.

“Wearing black on Thursdays shows others that we are tired of putting up with violence, and call for [areas] where we can all walk safely and without fear,” the website of this initiative explains.

“We also host a brief gathering at 13:00 every Thursday in front of the Town Hall. Everyone is welcome,” said Michelle Aalbers, the municipality’s Manager for Community Development.

At SU, the Faculty of Theology already participates in the Thursdays-in-Black campaign. They have now been invited to join the lunchtime gatherings at the Town Hall on Thursdays.

“This is a broader societal issue going beyond universities,” Stellenbosch Executive Mayor Adv Gesie van Deventer said at an SU Council meeting last week.

“We have to fight it together.”

“Gender-based violence elicits righteous anger, and combating it is a righteous cause,” SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Wim de Villiers said. “We all agree enough is enough.”

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