‘This Thing of the Victim Has to Prove That the Perp Intended to Assault Is Kak!’ Social Media Responses to Sexual Violence on South African Universities

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 11:00
Oral Presentation
Ragi BASHONGA, Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa
Zuziwe KHUZWAYO, Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa
Since 2015 South African universities have emerged as central sites for the decolonial project which manifested through various movements such as ‘Fees Must Fall’ and ‘Rhodes Must Fall’. Understood as Fallism, these movements have looked towards the deconstruction of various forms of oppression not only in universities but across South African society. Although issues of race and class were central to the recent wave of student activism, the issue of sexual violence became a critical feature of the project. Public protests and social media were important platforms on which the issues of South Africa’s rape culture, as well as a space in which university policies on sexual violence were interrogated.

Using the theoretical framework of gender-based violence and rape culture, this paper explores public opinion regarding sexual violence on university campuses. This paper analyses university policy as well as social media data on the topic using the approach of document and content analysis. An examination of these narratives reveals the ongoing power of patriarchy and its impact on sexual violence. Findings show dissatisfaction with university policies on sexual assault which are perceived as outdated and ineffective. Rape culture at universities is depicted here as a symptom of broader patriarchy in society.