STOP: The placards used by Silent Protesters to demonstrate against sexual violence. Photo: Mokgethwa Masemola
STOP: The placards used by Silent Protesters to demonstrate against sexual violence. Photo: Mokgethwa Masemola

The Wits Silent Protest march on draws attention to the challenges surrounding the culture of sexual violence and rape in our country held on Wednesday, August 17.  “VERY few people know that I have been raped. Not even my own mother knows that I have been raped,” said Lungelo Sibisi*

This week the annual Silent Protest march, which started at Rhodes, took place at the Wits main campus in an effort to create awareness of the rape culture experienced by students and staff. Among the protestors was Sibisi.
“Our patriarchal society needs to be re-imagined and the silent protest speaks for that,” said Sibisi. Sibisi, a postgraduate student at Wits University, came out with much hesitation over the confrontation of wearing a Silent Protest t-shirt which says “Rape Survivor”. Sibisi was raped by a friend. “I am telling the world as much as I am liberating myself. I can’t be quiet for my whole life while seeing these injustices surrounding sexual violence.” Sibisi said, “It becomes very real especially when you walk around the whole day with a t-shirt that reads ‘rape survivor’. It is very confronting”. The Silent Protest draws attention to the challenges surrounding the culture of sexual violence and rape in our country. “I met this boy. And everything was cool and chilled vibes,” said Sibisi. Earlier in the year, Sibisi had gone to hang out with Thabo* and his friends, only to find herself in situation where she was raped by Thabo in his house. After one has experienced sexual violence, the process of getting medical and psychological assistance can be traumatic. Sibisi immediately found assistance after being raped and mentioned that she has not made any attempt to
confront her rapist. “I don’t even have an answer as to ‘why’ I have not opened a case against Thabo,” said Sibisi. Sibisi mentioned that a platform like the Silent Protest makes the idea of rape culture in this country “real” because you can hear and see the people who live their lives knowing that they have been raped or sexually assaulted. “We need to stop telling our girls in our society not to get raped and start telling our boys not to rape,” said Sibisi alluding to a saying. Rape culture among young people has been highlighted through experiences by Sibisi and many other rape survivors, especially through movements like the silent protest, #IAmOneIn3 and #RememberKhwezi. Sibisi stressed that the idea that rape culture is embedded in our society and the Silent Protest helps to raise public awareness about the problem of sexual violence. A large number of protestors stood in solidarity with all survivors of sexual violence. For anyone  who has experienced sexual violence and looking for assistance, they should contact the Gender Equity Office (GEO). It is located at University Corner (the building above the Wits Art Museum) in Braamfontein on the 20th Floor, corner of Jorissen Street and Jan Smuts Avenue at the University of the Witwatersrand.
*The name used in this article is not the real name of the person.

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ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED on Wits Vuvuzela here

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