Speaking at the prayer session, Chairperson of the Gender Forum, Dr Nonzwakazi Maqubele emphasized the theme for this year: ‘Moving from Awareness to Accountability.’
“This means we are all about accountability. It means taking action against GBV. It means people have to be involved when someone they know is going through any form of violence. It means a person should not look away once they or any of their family members encounter Gender-based Violence,” she said.
“We always talk about making the day orange as a way of spreading awareness. We are moving to taking action and accountability. For us today is about pledging to be sensitive towards GBV victims and survivors..
It’s about reporting when anyone comes across GBV or supporting anybody who is going through it. We are moving towards action. People must look after and support their loved ones, and themselves, to stay safe within our spaces.”
UMP Students and Staff signing the pledge at prayer session.
Newly appointed SRC president, Mr Bathini Madinawe, said gender-based violence is a societal problem and students need to stand united in fighting it because it also exists in Institutions of Higher Learning.
Deputy Chairperson of the UMP Rainbow Alliance, Ms Thandiwe Mafu, added that hate crimes against LGBTQI+ community are on the increase. “We are gathered here to commemorate those that lost their lives or loved ones to GBV. We want to raise awareness that we all deserve a comfortable living environment,” she said.
UMP Student Counsellor, Ms Xolile Sibuyi encouraged students to come forward and seek counselling. “Gender-based Violence has been a pandemic for many years. We need to speak up and be there for victims, especially the ones that continue to live under these conditions. Be there and provide emotional support as a community.”
Ms Sibuyi further said that people should learn not to judge those who are in such relationships. “Do not judge or put pressure on them. We need to be conscience of how we support our loved ones, because you might think you are supporting but you are actually putting pressure on them,” she continued.
“As a student counsellor I’m available to emotionally support victims, even when it’s not you directly, but a family member or other loved one. Witnessing GBV is almost just as traumatic as suffering it first-hand. It leaves no one unaffected. I’m here to help them in dealing with the psychological trauma they are going through or that they are in already. Students must be assured that their information is always confidential. Feel free to speak and or consult with me.”
The 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence awareness campaign runs from 25 November 2021, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, until 10 December. The University of Mpumalanga remains committed to create safe spaces for students and staff.
@ Story by Cleopatra Makhaga. Pictures: ChrisplPhoto