By Tamutswa Mahari
On Tuesday 29 August, UCT, in collaboration with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) hosted the day-long silent protest across Upper and Middle Campus.
SART is an organization focused on teaching people how to respond to or prevent instances of sexual assault as well as providing survivors adequate assistance and support. The AHF has been organising marches against gender based violence. The march affirmed the university’s solidarity with survivors who have been silenced by sexual violence and rape culture as well as raising awareness on these pressing issues.
Prior to the march, all those participating were briefed in Jameson Hall as a way of raising awareness to issues such as, “rape culture teaching us not to get raped, instead of not to rape” and an emphasis on the need to provide rape victims with Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) which prevents the contraction of HIV. An emphasis was also made on the need for a better response and support system from the university for survivors.
The silent protesters were given purple T-shirts and signs that held statements such as: “Stop the war on women’s bodies”, “Survivor”, “Break the silence” and many other phrases that encouraged and empowered victims of sexual assault. These shirts were worn by participants in the silent protest and the signs were held high as they marched from Jameson Hall to Bremner building. The protesters proceeded to partake in a Die-in in Bremner building as a living memorial for all those who have lost their lives due to sexual assault.
Many people on social media have been showing support for the silent protest through Social Media using the following hashtags: #AHFSilentProtest #WeBelieveYou #BreakTheSilence #DemandPEP