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The University of Zululand (UNIZULU) Pastoral Care Unit in collaboration with Transformation and Social Inclusion, recently hosted UNIZULU first year students  Gender Based Violence (GBV) awareness campaign held Richards Bay Campus. The Theme: Eradicating GBV at UNIZULU.  The campaign was aimed at  raising  awareness encompassing  the multifaceted issues  of GBV in Higher education institutions , the issue of repeat offenders is also a growing concern, consequences and the available protective resources against GBV on campus.

In her keynote address , Richards Bay campus clinic Nurse Ntombiyokuthula Ngwenya, indicated that one in five less voiceless people are victims of gender-based violence .She detailed that gender-based violence is deeply rooted in discriminatory cultural beliefs and attitude that perpetuates inequality and powerlessness.  Ngwenya also  pointed out that she trusts  the campaign will equipe students with information that will work in changing the attitude of people who are scared to talk about gender-based violence. As the campaign will provide information that can be accessible on what gender-based violence is, have people that will be able to identify, address and respond to the violence.

Manager: Transformation and Social Inclusion ,Menzi Bhengu informed the audience that this is a  difficult battle to win, there are some actions that can be  taken to fight this malicious in society and its impact on Tertiary Institutions .“Gender-based violence is not only just violence that is physical, but it can also be psychological, sexual, and it injures on is unequal power relations. We live in such a violent society, universities are a symbol of society, there is also pronounced level of violence, which is perpetuated against students fighting among themselves and between intimate partners. Be mindful of GBV signs, such as, when a person that is not willing to communicate with you if there is something bothering them, intimidation and threatening, humiliation on social media, jealousy, intrusion and lying”, said Bhengu.  He also encouraged students to begin the year in a positive note, by making good decisions, building good relationships and contacts.

Dr Kanagie Naidoo who is a Senior Lecturer from the Law Department, educated students about the Protection Orders and the consequences of abusing the process. “When you are victim of the abuse, you have your rights, which you  cannot abuse for your own selfish reasons. If you are in an abusive relationship, you can go to court, make your affidavit, and get a protection order against the person abusing you. Apart from a protection order that you can get in terms of domestic violence act, there is also a common restraining order”, she said. Dr Naidoo also proclaimed that the University of Zululand is taking gender-based violence as a serious matter, as it is spending enormous amounts of resources to give students the protection that they need to eradicate this kind of abuse from the university.

The session ended with an educational and informative question-and-answer session.

– Sinenhlanhla Ngcongo

Picture by: Mbuyiselo Mlaba

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