By Danica Hansen

Hundreds of students gathered at Durban University of Technology’s (DUT) Steve Biko Campus for a silent protest against gender-based violence and rape on Wednesday, 16 August at 11 am.

The Silent Protests, sponsored nationally by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), were established at Rhodes University in 2007.

“The AIDS Healthcare Foundation became involved in an anti rape event because we recognised that there’s a clear connection between the epidemic of gender-based violence in South Africa and the epidemic of HIV in South Africa and we recognised that people don’t necessarily know that there is something they can do to stop seroconversion to prevent becoming HIV positive after rape,” said AHF policy and advocacy manager, Larissa Klazinga.

The importance of mobilising against gender-based violence was highlighted at the Durban protest. “I think this is a societal problem that should not just be about women, we should be able to mobilise everyone to rally behind the programmes of this nations and it is important that universities participate because they are designed to produced tomorrow’s leaders,” said David Mohale Director of special projects in the office of the vice chancellor of DUT.

At the city hall, the students lay down in a metaphorical death to symbolise the impact of gender-based violence and rape. “Men don’t realise how it effects a woman’s life pshycoligically as victims develop self hatred which has a negative impact,”  said student, Thandeka Manqele.

A total of 539 cases of rape, sexual assault, child neglect and kidnapping cases were received for investigation by KZN’s Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences units in July. During the same period 284 arrests were made as a result of investigations. ”I hope that this sends a clear message to those who abuse our women and children.

“We also wish to thank all role players in the criminal justice system for their part in securing these convictions,” said KZN Acting Provincial Commissioner, Major General Bheki Langa. The fight against gender-based violence continues as local authorities clamp down on criminals and organisations like AHF mobilise students to protest