Student Opinion: University Policy regarding Rape

As a teenager at Rhodes, one wonders how safe we really are, shattered by the response there is to rape and shocked by people’s ignorance and the lies we’ve been fed for the past year or so. When I came to this University, I heard that Rhodes would support any rape survivor until the end. I had been told in House Committee training that we should encourage survivors to report such things and tell them that the University will support them. I had faith in the system until it happened to a first year – I don’t know the girl’s background. All I know is that she was 18 at the time and, as a fellow 18-year-old, I know she would want and need the support. In your first year at a well known university like this, you would expect them to stand in solidarity with a rape survivor. Well, that was the story which was told to us until it happened. God knows I’m not trying to take sides in this matter and I’m no lawyer just yet, but what I know is I saw the victim after the rape and Lord help if I would lie about such a thing. I am damn sure that she could not have done that to herself, someone somewhere did it and I wonder how safe I really am.

I mean, word is going around right now that she lied about it all – the nerve to judge someone you don’t know and call her a liar! I am disgusted, but I am more disgusted at the females in this University who are also encouraging this rumour.  Then again, maybe I should blame leadership about the statement that went out. Pat yourself in the back, Rhodes leadership, for making the victim even more victimised. It makes me smile knowing these are the people who run the University. Well done. To the students, I would like to believe we are all in this University because we have some intelligence and logic within us, so someone please free my mind and explain to me. Why a first year would say she had been raped by a student she doesn’t even know and put herself through all that just for the sake of fun or whatever reason that you think? I’m still trying to understand the logic in that.

I knew the South African justice system was nothing but lies, but then I didn’t know the Rhodes protection system was like that too. So she dropped the charges. I would too, if the alleged rapist was walking around the same campus freely, while the memories still haunted me. And all this University can say is we can’t do anything, it’s his word against hers. One wonders if the people who gave this statement has a daughter or two. God forbid their children live in South Africa and they happen to be raped and the judicial system tells them something like that. A laugh I’d have then. It’s no wonder only one in nine rapes are reported in this country. After all, this University has just told me that I am not safe and if I were to get raped, I would just have to deal with that because it’s my word against his.

If I were a male at Rhodes right now, I would know that there is no such thing as justice. Thank you once again, Rhodes leadership, for telling our young men that they can insert their beautiful ding-dongs every where they darn well please. Aren’t you just proud of yourselves? Wonderful world in which we live, isn’t it?

Regards,

Thenjiwe Mswane

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