North-West University: NWU to launch a GBV awareness campaign

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The Vanderbijlpark Campus of the North-West University (NWU)will launch a Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Awareness campaign on 1September.

The campaign is a collaborative effort between the NWU’s Student Judicial Services, Employee Wellness and Alumni Relations, and will run until 11 October.

Themed “Silence allows violence – Speak up…it all starts here”, the campaign will include valuable information on services and resources related to GBV available to students and staff. It will kickstart with a virtual presentation by NWU lecturer Vedhna Lalla who will talk about raising healthy males. On this day, an exciting competition will also be launched for staff and students from the Vanderbijlpark Campus.

On 8 September, Martin Pelders, a sexual abuse and assault survivor, will speak about men as survivors of abuse and about raising awareness of the LGBTQIA+ community. Subsequent sessions will cover topics such as protocol compliance which informs students and staff how and where to report incidents of GBV, the processes involved in managing these cases, information on interpersonal violence, and access to services.

Genevieve Poodhun, Employee Wellness specialist and one of the event’s organisers, says the campaign aims to build awareness and consciousness around gender, the LGBTQIA+ community, GBV, and overall gender relations.

“We want to raise awareness to increase general sensitivity, understanding and knowledge about gender diversity. We would also like to destigmatise reporting GBV abuse and accessing related services so that all victims, including males and the LGBTQIA+ community, can get the assistance they need,” says Genevieve.

Ujeet Maharaj, prosecutor and head of Student Judicial Services, says they want the event to advance the gender awareness and inclusivity debate, drive evidence-informed change, and inform decision-making.

“Through this campaign, we want to change the perception that GBV is a women’s issue and that men don’t need to get involved. We want men to speak up and express their opposition to violence against women and other men, to challenge stereotypical attitudes and behaviours, and to reiterate a zero-tolerance policy towards gender-based violence.

“We want men who are GBV-survivors to know that there is no shame in seeking help. We want them to know that there are resources for them too,” explains Ujeet, adding that the project will also provide care packages to survivors of abuse who find themselves in shelters and places of safety.

Consequently, the campus will embark on a charity drive among staff and students to collect items for the care packages. More information about this initiative will soon be communicated.

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