Statement- Wits FMF Feminists
*In solidarity with #RUReferenceList: Tuesday 26th April 2016- 1PM- Great Hall steps.*
On Sunday, the 17th of April 2016 womyn at the institution currently knows as Rhodes took to the streets of this institution to protest against the institution’s reluctance to deal with sexual assaults on its campus. These courageous, revolutionary students began the very important and necessary work of removing the shame and blame from the victim, and rightfully attributing it to the perpetrators.
These womyn are staging a protest in a country that, contrary to its legislation and constitution, is complicit in letting rapists get away with their actions, thus perpetuating a culture of rape and violence on women’s bodies (We remember the womyn who we came to know as Khwezi). The protesting students are sending a message to survivors; friends of survivors; and friends of those we have lost saying “we believe you, you are not alone and we have had enough”. The actions of these womyn remind us of the words of Mam’ Leymah Gbowee “It is time for womyn to stop being politely angry”.
Not in the face of a violent rape culture, misogyny and patriarchy.
As per the nature of privilege, and the work of protecting privilege, the university, the police, the perpetrators and friends of perpetrators have brutalised, and threatened these womyn. As it currently stands, five students were arrested and the protesting students have received a court interdict that is effectively meant to police and shut down the protest.
This is a call to stand in solidarity with the womyn of the institution currently known as Rhodes. To mourn the lives of the womyn we have lost due to unchecked patriarchal violence, sexual assault and many other forms of patriarchal oppression. .
We are saying, to the women who have been silenced, “We stand with you!” To the women at the institution currently known as Rhodes, we say “Aluta Continua! Siyabonga!” Enkosi to the womyn who have put their bodies on the line and are fighting the good fight. We are grateful, we rejoice, but more than that we are in solidarity with you by saying:
The Womyn of Wits (Wits Marginalized bodies) call on all allies to stand with us on the day of action, which is on Tuesday, the 26th of April 2016. We are calling for forms of solidarity, protest action, gathering of funds to be sent to the womyn at that institution, and demand that Dr Mabizela and his management answers for the way in which he has physically violation of students by him and his management, to answer to the demands of these womyn, and to stand in solidarity. Furthermore, we call on VCs on all campuses across the country to stop protecting rapists and sexual assault offenders.
Our campuses are not safe, and enough is enough!