Perhaps the greatest indictment of the current degrading debate over a “rape culture” at the University of Pretoria came from the statement issued by the tertiary institution’s spokesperson Rikus Delport.
He said the university’s sexual harassment and rape policy was under review and inputs received from the #SpeakOutUP campaign have been included.
The point surely is that if there is an endemic problem with rape at UP, a problem female students maintain is fact and are prepared to go to the extremes of mounting a “naked protest” to bring to the attention of the university authorities, it is futile to hide behind the smokescreen of a developing policy.
And if the crasser of the students on campus have the utter gall to publicly display sexually demeaning, anti-feminist posters, the outrage should be instantaneous and the response from the council punitive.
There can be no negotiation on the serious nature of rape – classified as a capital offence not that long ago – or with sexual abuse, which is one of the more blatant of abuse visited by one human being on another.
The more graphic of the posters was displayed during the preliminary competition for the Serrie residence and reportedly aimed primarily at upsetting the female performers. The offending students are seemingly in the minority, but we would suggest that the climate at the university is both pervasive and suspect in the extreme.
It also brings sharply into focus the upbringing and morals of some of the students. We would expect an attitude from the authorities which renounces in unequivocal terms the criminality of rape and sexual abuse and stands firmly to this principle.
University should be a place where individuals should be free to exercise and stretch their own intellectual boundaries; not one where a pervasive fear closes these portals.