Female students at Stellenbosch University spoke to RAâ€™EESA PATHER about incidents relating to safety and sexual harassment that have occurred in their community and how, at times, male students have transgressed boundaries.
CarlÃ© CilliÃ©, 20, second-year BAccounting
Last year we had a few incidents. A girl got stabbed, another was raped, and there was a girl who was kidnapped, but managed to escape. Itâ€™s all things that couldâ€™ve happened anywhere, and not all of it happened on campus, but I think the university itself implemented quite a few adjustments to ensure our safety on campus. At night, thereâ€™s always people from campus security driving around; if youâ€™re studying late, you can call them and theyâ€™ll walk with you to the res. They really do quite a lot of things for safety. It couldâ€™ve happened to anyone â€“ I just think overall women are softer targets.
Mbali Tyolo, 19, second-year BSc
I got mugged in the nature reserve during the day, so now Iâ€™m shaken. The nature reserve is basically part of campus; itâ€™s so close to here. If I walk alone â€“ especially on weekends, because itâ€™s quite empty â€“ and thereâ€™s a guy passing by, I get uneasy. I donâ€™t walk at night at all. [Campus Security]Â is not effective â€“ weâ€™ve heard so many stories about how they donâ€™t want to help students who have been mugged, but they are campus security, and even if we are mugged off-campus they should respond to students who are in trouble. I know there have been incidents where guys have been inappropriate to girls on campus, but personally I have not had those experiences. Thereâ€™s a story that a female student was raped by a male student in Eendrag res earlier this year. Itâ€™s hard to know exactly what happened and who was involved. I have a thing with men visiting res, because youâ€™re so used to girls in a res that when you see a guy itâ€™s a surprise. In some ways itâ€™s okay, because you think that the guy is with a girl here, but what happens if heâ€™s not?
Rufaro Chikari, 20, second-year environmental studies
I feel safe on the main campus, but there are a lot of cases of robberies around the other areas. Itâ€™s an open campus, so anyone can come in and out. I also got robbed recently opposite res, so I feel very unsafe there. I donâ€™t go to the park anymore and Iâ€™m more careful about how I walk around campus. I prefer to walk with a guy, because with girls itâ€™s less safe. Iâ€™ve never had experiences of sexual harassment on campus. The only story Iâ€™ve heard about that is the rape in Eendrag, but nothing else. With the rape, it made me scared to go to a guyâ€™s res, because people think itâ€™s your fault. Theyâ€™ll ask: what were you doing in a guyâ€™s res in the first place?
Kirsten Martins*, 20, second-year management accounting
Iâ€™ve never experienced any incidents â€“ Iâ€™ve heard about stuff, but because it hasnâ€™t happened to me Iâ€™m still that naÃ¯ve person who thinks it wonâ€™t ever happen to me. Campus security does make me feel safe. If Iâ€™m walking around at night and I see them, then I feel like I can walk around with my phone. The rape story was scary, because the fact that you sit with someone who could be a rapist in classâ€¦ the fact that they could be walking around thinking about raping someone is scary. Iâ€™ve been lucky not to experience anything, but at a womenâ€™s res there was an incident with a friend of mine during initiation. The guys take the girls into the shower and wet them. Itâ€™s just meant to be for fun; the girls are fully clothed. With her, there was a point where the guys were alone in a room with her, telling her to take off her clothes and her underwear. I canâ€™t remember the details, but she was scared and she felt very threatened, When she went to the res authorities, the way they handled it wasnâ€™t to her satisfaction. There was a lot of stories about student res leaders getting dismissed, and she felt like they were looking down on her because it was her fault they got dismissed.
Â *Name has been changed.
– All images by Raâ€™eesa Pather.
– Voxes have been edited for brevity and clarity.Â
Editors note: One vox pop has been removed, at the request of the interviewee.