Rape Culture evident in society


NOT MY PROBLEM: An anti-rape campaign by Make Your Move! Sourced from yoganonymous.com

If you are a man, you are part of rape culture. Recent social media campaigns like #YesAllWomen and #AllMenCan have stimulated conversation about the solutions in place to create safer environments for women.

Although both men and women are victims of rape, men are the main perpetrators of the crime.  Male feminist, Zaron Burnett proposed that men, perpetuators of rape culture, have the responsibility to change it.  Read his article here: A gentleman’s guide to rape culture.

BLAME GAME: An anti-rape campaign by Make Your Move! sourced from yoganonymous.com

BLAME GAME: An anti-rape campaign by Make Your Move!
Sourced from yoganonymous.com

After talking to some students on Wits University campus to hear their take on rape culture, this is what they had to say:

Rophiwa Madzena’s fears as a woman hold her back from enjoying life.  “I don’t like to go out in the evenings because I’m afraid a guy is going to grab me.  A rape is a really, it’s a scary thing and it’s instilled a lot of fears in women to the extent that you can’t live a normal life because at the back of your mind you’re always just thinking something bad could happen to me, even if it’s just paranoia”.

Some of her vulnerabilities in the presence of a man stem from not being able to assert herself in a culture where masculinity is valued.  “As a woman; you’re supposed to know your place.   That makes you more vulnerable to a rape situation”.

She said that because men have a stigma of violence attached to them, it is difficult for them to do anything to make women feel safe.  In their presence, “You get comfortable, but you don’t get too comfortable”.

She believes the responsibility to keep women safe is shared by both men and women.

This opinion is shared by Phoebe Mabelane, who believes there is nothing men can do to change female perceptions about rape.  “These fears are within me regardless of whatever anyone says; or how they (men) present themselves”.

She said, “I don’t think it’s their (men) responsibility to make me feel safe.  That’s my responsibility, I have to do it on my own; I can’t rely on men”.

Her fears are, besides potentially being a victim of rape, but knowing someone who is a victim and not being able to help them in any way.

Mabelane wants to take self-defence classes to better prepare herself in unwanted situations of violence.  She also relies on prayer and does not think much about finding herself in situations where she might be threatened.

Amongst her peers, she said, “with girls I feel safe because I know they won’t do anything to me.  With guys I feel safe because I know they will protect me from offences by outsiders.”

For men to change female perceptions of rape, she believes people should not down-play little incidents.  “We won’t speak out about bigger incidents if people do not show support and understanding about the little incidents.”

I am the weaker sex, not as strong as a man, if a man were to rape me, I’m not sure I could defend myself.

Siphelele Ncube is also interested in using martial arts to protect herself. Her fears as a woman are related to the fact that men are stronger than women.  “I am the weaker sex, not as strong as a man, if a man were to rape me, I’m not sure I could defend myself.”

To counter her fears on a daily basis, she avoids “uncomfortable or potentially dangerous situations”.

As for feeling unsafe around men, she said, “How much you know about a person puts you at ease, you always hold back until you know a person well enough to be comfortable with them”.

HOOK UP?: Sourced from yoganonymous.com

HOOK UP?:An anti-rape campaign by Make Your Move! Sourced from yoganonymous.com

Kirsty Sanders believes that in order to change perceptions that men are the main perpetrators of rape; more emphasis should be placed on cases where women are perpetrators.  “In majority cases of rape, men are the perpetrators, and the cases where women are the perpetrators are not publicized”.

Sanders believes rape is not a problem in isolation, but rather part of a bigger crime problem, “Every woman is scared she will be raped.  But I would not say I’m particularly fearful of being raped.  In South Africa, there’s a high crime rate.  So you are careful of where you go and who you with”.

Steps she takes to protect herself in vulnerable situations include, “taking crime prevention measures… evaluate your options to get out of an unsafe situation”.

Like Mabelane and Madzena she believes responsibility for safety falls on both men and women, “It’s a shared responsibility.  We need to develop a society where women feel safe.  It’s a combination of women taking realistic precautionary means, and men taking means to protect women and feel safe.”

From a man’s perspective, to make a woman feel safe Oupa Sibeko said, “It’s not about how you touch a woman but how you interact with her.   It depends on how men approach women. We should change how we interact.  Our opinions should not inflict violence or demean the other person”.

He said most men influence each-others behaviour.  “You’re always trying to prove a point that you man enough”.

“It is hard to tell if a woman fears you”, but their behaviour around you (a man) says a lot.  “Sometimes women do show us they fear us, but then we (men) use that to take advantage (of them).”

When interacting with women he said, “It all starts with respect for the self.  I respect myself, so when I’m around a woman, I’m around a human, so I treat them as such.”

Men have always had this problem of having to feel superior

Luntu Quntana echoes his sentiments, “men have always had this problem of having to feel superior.  Due to this pressure society puts on men, they become violent”.

Pride and the fear of being ostracized prevents men from speaking out against rape.  He said to solve the problem, “Men should be more proactive in speaking to young men, encouraging them”.

“The biggest issue is self-confidence in young men.  We can eradicate this problem by mentorship.  Tell young men it’s okay to have emotions and to be weak at times.”  When men stand up against rape, they are labelled as gay or weak, according to Quntana.

He can tell if a woman fears him, “you can see if a woman is afraid, you can tell by her body language.  Talking to them, they are more distant, hesitant when speaking. And they seem very caged up.”

To make women feel less vulnerable he is conscious of his signals to make women feel safe.  “Be honest with them.  I allow myself to be weak around them, to show them that I’m not trying to put up some image”.

LONELY HEART: Sourced from yoganonymous.com

ARE YOU LONESOME TONIGHT: An anti-rape campaign by Make Your Move! Sourced from yoganonymous.com

Maria Wanyane an advisor from the Sexual Harassment Office at Wits said there are programmes in place to educate both men and women on campus about sexual harassment.

“We do partner with a number of organisations and units on campus to work together because we do realise that violence against men and women is not something that can be dealt with by one institution, it requires a collective collaboration” she said.

The Sexual Harassment Office works with the Transformation office, Counselling and Careers Development Unit and different faculties on campus.

The office deals with all matters relating to sexual harassment and is responsible for the management of those cases.  Students and staff contact the office directly or are referred to the Sexual Harassment Office by sister organisations on campus.

“In terms of how we manage the case depends on the choice of the complainant.  We have a sexual harassment policy.  You can choose any of the options, counselling, formal processes where we conduct an investigation about what happened and based on available information take a decision about appropriate intervention.  We also refer matters to the police.”

“You can report sexual harassment to almost anyone on campus and they will make sure that you are okay by referring you to us,” she added.

With the roles of men and women constantly changing, there is still room to raise awareness of rape culture and to educate men and women to take a stand against it.


This one’s for you, MUM!

She’s given you life.  Nursed you to health.  Put up with your tantrums. Cleaned your mess. Whipped you with a wooden spoon.  Proof-read all your essays.  Listened to all your speeches.  Cheered the loudest when you were competing for that useless medal.  She bullied all your teachers.  Forked out money so that you could do God-knows-what with God-knows-who.  Held your hand when you went to the doctors.    Wiped those tears when your heart got broken.    Told you to grow up, and then begged you to stay home.

She is mum.  You know she will always love you, because as Lee-Ann Liebenberg put it, “After all, you’re the only one who knows the sound of my heart from the inside”

A group of students took pictures of their mothers day messages to show their life-long appreciation.

BESTIES:  Nthabiseng Makgabo's mum is her best friend.   Photo: Lameez Omarjee

BESTIES: Nthabiseng Makgabo’s mum is her best friend.
Photo: Lameez Omarjee

Nthabiseng Makgabo, 2nd year BSc, said: “My mom is like my BFF, literally. My mom has super-woman tendencies. She takes it to another level. She’s like a doctor/driver/sometimes my dad/ my best friend. She’s my err’thing.”

SPOIL HER: Benvolio Masehla thinks his mum should spend the day resting. Photo: Lameez Omarjee

SPOIL HER: Benvolio Masehla thinks his mum should spend the day resting.
Photo: Lameez Omarjee

Benvolio Masehla, 4th year MBBCH, misses his mom’s shouting.  “And the whipping.”

TALK TIME:  Frans Mashangoane just wants to talk to his mum.   Photo: Lameez Omarjee

TALK TIME: Frans Mashangoane just wants to talk to his mum.
Photo: Lameez Omarjee

Frans Mashangoane, 1st year BAccSci, said: “I just miss talking to her.”

STRONG WOMAN:  Kelebohile Mganga's mother's strength has inspired her. Photo: Lameez Omarjee

STRONG WOMAN: Kelebohile Mganga’s mother’s strength has inspired her.
Photo: Lameez Omarjee

Kelebohile Mganga, 3rd year BSc, said: “I miss everything. My mom is disabled but she does everything, and she’s a single mom. She’s so strong. I learn so much. Everyday with her is the best thing ever.”

IRRELEVANT WISDOM:  Masego Mpyatona speaks fondly of her mother's strange wisdom. Photo: Lameez Omarjee

IRRELEVANT WISDOM: Masego Mpyatona speaks fondly of her mother’s strange wisdom.
Photo: Lameez Omarjee

Masego Mpyatona, 2nd year BSc, said: “She loves saying this line, even when it’s irrelevant- “ga o na peace”-you don’t have peace.”

Minenhle Dlamini misses her mother's discipline. Photo:  Lameez Omarjee

BEST MUM:  Minenhle Dlamini misses her mother’s discipline.
Photo: Lameez Omarjee

Minenhle Dlamini, 2nd year BAccSci, said: “I miss her shouting. She always shouts at me. Now I miss that. She always worries about the little things, she’s that protective.”

Lebotsa Precious Photo: Lameez Omarjee

BEST CHOICE:  Lebotsa Precious would not trade her mum for another Photo: Lameez Omarjee

Lebotsa Precious, 2nd year BCom Accounting, said her best memory was the day she received her matric results because her mum was so happy.   “I miss the calming effect she has on me.”

FAITHFUL:  Makghola Pheme's mum  photo:  Lameez Omarjee

FAITHFUL: Makghola Pheme’s mum has never let him down.  Photo: Lameez Omarjee

Makghola Pheme, 2nd year BAccSci, said: “She’s always there. Irrespective of the situation.”

APPRECIATIVE: Odwa Mbanga Photo:  Lameez Omarjee

APPRECIATIVE: Odwa Mbanga is thankful for her mum’s presence in her life.
Photo: Lameez Omarjee

Odwa Mbanga, Honours BSc, said:  “I miss her kindness.  She’s really sweet.”

GOT YOUR BACK:  Ledima Mello Photo: Lameez Omarjee

GOT YOUR BACK: Ledima Mello’s mother will never leave his side. Photo: Lameez Omarjee

Ledima Mello, 3rd year BAccSci said: “She was always on my side. Even when I was stealing, she was still on my side.”

Mkhize Sluleko Photo: Lameez Omarjee

SIMPLY WONDERFUL:  Mkhize Sluleko’s mother makes the world a better place. 
Photo: Lameez Omarjee

Mkhize Sluleko, 1st year BSc said: “I miss her cooking.”

HIGH HOPES: Lungile Ngobeni's mother caught her trying on her heels. Photo: Lameez Omarjee

HIGH HOPES: Lungile Ngobeni’s mother caught her trying on her heels.
Photo: Lameez Omarjee

Lungile Ngobeni,4th year BEng, said: “I miss her nagging. When she caught me trying on her shoes… you in a rush to grow up, now I can’t even stand high heels.”

So mums all over the world, know that your children love you, even when it seems like we don’t.

These photos were featured on the Instagram account of Wits Vuvuzela


A day in the life of a law student

LEGAL:  Ildiko Gyarmati studies at the Oliver Schreiner school of law at Wits University Photo: Lameez Omarjee

FAIRLY LEGAL: Ildiko Gyarmati studies at the Oliver Schreiner School of Law at Wits University
Photo: Lameez Omarjee

Ildiko Gyarmati is a young woman driven to succeed in every task in which she is challenged.  This final year law student from the University of the Witwatersrand completed her B.Com degree in 2012 and picked up some notable achievements along the way.  She was inducted into the Golden Key International Honour Society in 2011, she was one of the few selected delegates at the Pioneering Young Women Conference of 2012, she worked to get her name on the Dean’s list in the 3rd year of her LLB degree and will do her articles at the prestigious law firm Norton Rose Fulbright.

Despite her busy final year schedule, she serves as the editor of Inkundla Student Law Journal and is currently finalising the 2014 edition.  She also tutors a third year law subject.

The beginnings of a promising career

Gyarmati initially chose Wits’ law school (Oliver Schreiner School of Law) because of its reputation for having great lecturers and the international recognition of the qualification.

One may be part of life-altering court decisions affecting socio-economic rights or setting precedents for many generations to follow.

Her argumentative nature pointed her to take a career in the direction of law, said Gyarmati.  After doing job shadowing in grade 11 she learnt how vast the field is.  “It’s a profession and not just a qualification.” Law is a dynamic career with different routes to follow, according to Gyarmati.  “One may be part of life-altering court decisions affecting socio-economic rights or setting precedents for many generations to follow.”

The tough schedule 

The final year law curriculum requires that Gyarmati work through six subjects a week.   There are also fourth year electives scheduled outside class time, later in the day.  The most hectic day of her week is Monday; she attends three classes for “strenuous” subjects as she describes them to be complex, “Everything is not decided in law”.

THE PRACTICE:  Ildiko Gyarmati works at the Wits law Clinic as part of the requirements of her LLB degree Photo: Lameez Omarjee

THE PRACTICE: Ildiko Gyarmati works at the Wits law Clinic as part of the requirements of her LLB degree
Photo: Lameez Omarjee

Additionally, as part of the practical training Wits’ Law school provides, she attends Wits Law Clinic in the family unit (law pertaining to family matters), where she meets clients, consults with them, finds legal solutions to their problems and institutes actions.

To prepare for law clinic Gyarmati reads up on family law (substantive law).  Even though Gyarmati enjoys family law, she aims to work in corporate law next year.  Some challenges faced in doing law clinic are the language barriers and differing education standards of clients.  “You have to sift through a long story to get details and understand what they (clients) want.”  Gyarmati is fortunate to have a partner at the clinic who helps with translation to overcome language barriers.

Law clinic also includes a substantive law lecture and tutorial.  Students work with supervisors who discuss cases and steps to be taken forward.

Like every other Jo’burger, traffic is another obstacle she has to overcome daily. Unlike a robot, Gyarmati allows herself time to unwind after a busy day before she dives into her books again.

The balancing act

As for her social life, Gyarmati makes time for her friends on the weekends.    She has also met new people in her classes, “Final year makes meeting people easier, there are smaller classes, [you] do a lot of group work, [we’re all] in the same boat [so] we become closer friends, ” said Gyarmati.  “Mass hysteria brings people together,” said her friend Brett de Groot.

FRIENDSHIP: Ildiko Gyarmati manages to squeeze in time with her friends despite her busy schedule. Photo: Lameez Omarjee

JUST CHILLING : Ildiko Gyarmati manages to squeeze in time with her friends despite her busy schedule.  Pictured with her are Simone Gast and Brett de Groot
Photo: Lameez Omarjee

As can be learnt from this inspiring walk in the day in the life of a law student, with much determination, one can achieve a balance between work and social, no matter how complex your degree is.

Africa’s Mark Zuckerberg?

FOR STUDENTS BY STUDENTS: Michael Ngarachu explains the business of Students360 Photo: Lameez Omarjee

FOR STUDENTS BY STUDENTS: Michael Ngarachu explains the business of Student360
Photo: Lameez Omarjee

Student360, a venture started by Michael Ngarachu and Kenneth Oboni, could soon become Africa’s Facebook.

Humble beginnings

Ngarachu, a 21-year-old B.Com Honours in Finance student, has always been passionate about finance and started trading stocks when he was 10 years old.  He is one of eight children and as the eldest son, he always had a drive to provide.

He started Student360 with his partner Oboni, who completed his BAccSci degree at Wits University last year. He wanted to do something that benefited people.

The big idea

Student360 is a business for students by students and aims to cater to the 360 needs of students.  He got the idea a year ago when he saw students struggling to get textbooks at decent prices and incurring costs when looking for accommodation and searching for applications for bursaries, scholarships and jobs.

The business offers an online platform for students to find all the information they need on one generic site, a hub for online learning.  Additionally, textbooks can be bought online at cheaper prices with free delivery.  The team is currently developing an interactive website for students all over the country to access a database to exchange and find information.

Technically speaking

Unlike online businesses that are sales-generated, explained Ngarachu, the website would be like LinkedIn for students. Students can register online and once verified, the team passes on their information to recruitment agencies.

A mobile application is also being developed for students to use, with free messaging and advertising.  Systems like Dropbox for file-sharing and Skype for communication will also be put in place  to make information sharing convenient and to help the learning process.  The features will be available on the website from July.

Currently, the business is run by a three-man team and is funded by angel investors.  Next year the team aims to employ students, help them gain work experience and earn money.  Student360 will also be expanded to other campuses across the country.

We want it to be the Facebook of Africa.

The goal, according to Ngarachu, is to have the business student-owned for it to remain sustainable.

Ngarachu said proceeds were being reinvested into the business because of the huge potential for growth. “We want it to be the Facebook of Africa.”

 Leading today

In the beginning, coping with studies and running the business was hectic. “It took a big strain on me but at least it was worth it in the end,” he said.

By 2015, Ngarachu hopes that Student360 will be instrumental in improving the level of education in the country.  Plans are being made to go into rural areas to expose students to technology.  In the next five to 10 years, the team hopes to develop Student360 Capital to provide funding for student projects.

Ngarachu is inspired by Mark Zuckerberg, as well as the founders of Twitter. “They found something they are good at, a gap in the market and pursued it.  A lot of people find these things but they don’t have the courage to pursue it.”

One of the biggest challenges faced by Student360 was finding investors to support young entrepreneurs.  He advises other students who are thinking about starting businesses to “just do it because a lot of young, bright people get sucked into careers”.

“I think it’s important for young people to start thinking about entrepreneurship because that’s where the future of the country needs to be.”