By Nicola Haw
Dianne Moore, First year, participating in the silent protest.
The “My Short Skirt” protest, which happened on Wednesday, 6 May, is an annual event organized as part of the Anti Sex and Gender based Violence Week at Rhodes. The protest was organised by Student Services Officer, Larissa Klazinga. Participants braved the cold weather to wear short skirts in order to protest against rape and sexual harassment. Protesters stapled the phrase, “This skirt is not an invitation” onto their skirts when arriving at the protest in order to object to people observing a short skirt as a justification and invitation for rape.
“This protest is simply to make the point that our constitution allows women the right to freedom, freedom of movement and freedom of association. There are no provisions within our constitution that state that if you wear this you no longer qualify for that right,” said Klazinga.
Tammyrn Perks, a first year BSc student says, “Having a short skirt is not a reason for rape and it is never, never, never an invitation. People should be able to walk down the road naked and not get raped.”
Sekoetlane Jacob Phamodi, head of the Activism and Transformation portfolio of the SRC, was also there in a make-shift skirt to show his support for the protest’s aims saying, “In our society, especially in the past few years, we have seen an increase in people, especially men, being violent or harassing women based on what they are wearing. My question is why can’t we wear what we want to wear? Women have autonomy and therefore should be allowed to wear what they want to wear.”
Zizipho Mgobo, a committee member of GAP, admitted that there were not nearly as many people at the protest as they anticipated, “Feminism is not a sexy cause. People will look at us and think we are crazy. But I still think it was a success as I think we got our message across.”