A great number of female students are not happy with the presence of private security guards on-campus; this is due to the growing trend of cat-calling and sexual harassment carried out by the security guards employed by the Wits University Management. Female students are saying the university is not conducive space to learning since their rights are being violated, given the fact that Wits University prides itself as being a democratic institution that allows everyone and anyone to be who they want to be without any fear, female students whom Micampus Magazine  engaged with argue that University management is failing them while asserting to be trying to secure their safety. On her way from the New Commerce Law Building (NCB), passing at the Amic deck (bus stop), Edith Mokoena* says she was violated when a private security told her that, if rape was legal, he was going to rape her. “As a law student myself, I fail to understand why the University is claiming to be protecting us yet the same people who were hired to protect us undress and look at us in a manner that is totally unacceptable” says Mokoena* She goes on to say that although the University has to act against such behavior, men need to change their mindset on how they treat women, “you cannot say whatever you feel like saying to females just because you think it is okay” She asserted. Following our interaction with Mokoena*, many stories were yet to be heard, another female student claimed to have been followed from the bathroom. “While coming back from the bathroom in Senate House, two of them followed me, I was approaching my friends and because I was accompanying my friends, I had to change my route, they would not stop” She said. Nontobeko Zulu*, a third year Philosophy student goes on to say she did not report an incident that took place while she was trying to move through a crowded area at Wits Main campus, “He (Private security) grabbed my ass, and due to the fact that we are subjected to this kind of treatment on daily basis, I chose not to report it” She said. A lecturer from the Department of International Relations shared her experience during an interview we had with her. “I was hassled by three private security guards, I laid a complaint with the security command and then went on to notify campus control” she said. Some of the issues raised by Michelle Small include the fact that, the university management may have not considered gender sensitivity when it was decided that private security will be hired. Upon communicating with the Wits Gender Equity office, its Director Jackie Dugard indicated to us that only two complainants came forward. She says there are two cases which they were dealing with- one against Campus control, another against security generally. She further went to say that  video footage was examined on both these cases and no evidence was found. The major disappointment however is that, a lot of places where these incidents take place there are no video cameras, such places would the bus stop where a lot of female students wait to catch the bus to their respective residences. Furthermore Wits Gender Equity Office website defines sexual harassment as “any unwelcome physical, verbal and non-verbal conduct based on gender or sexual orientation, such as:
  • Gestures or sexual looks
  • The display, or sending by electronic or other means, of sexually explicit pictures or objects
  • Sex-related jokes or insults
  • Graphic and/or inappropriate comments about a person's body
  • Pressurizing someone to go on a date
  • Sexual advances, sexual threats
  • Unwelcome touching, leaning over, cornering or pinching
  • Rape or attempted rape
- See more at: https://www.wits.ac.za/students/health-and-wellbeing/gender-equity-office/#sthash.mEh21YyL.dpuf It is therefore important to assert that cases of sexual harassment should not be discarded on  basis that there is lack of evidence, as this contradicts the provided understanding of what constitute Sexual Violence and Harassment. It is also important to note the fact that, upon engaging with student population at Wits, there are still some male students  holding on to the mentality that, if a female experiences sexual violence and harassment, the blame has to be directed towards females because of how they dress. This is a view we have been contesting and disproving. This therefore serves as  an indicator that a lot needs to be done, more educational initiatives are required to change such mindsets. There is a petition launched by Chai-shandi-mira  Dladla, Phylia N and Myself. We have  so far managed to gather over 500 signatures of concerned students and academics. The intention is to raise awareness about sexual harassment. We are engaging the Gender Equity Office on the matter because we believe that Wits University ought to be free space where females need not to worry about their safety. One of the suggested solutions is  that Wits Management should do away with the private security on our campus and  more conversations must take place because patriarchy has clearly messed how we think. By: Mpho Ndaba Twitter (@Anthony_base1)    

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