Understanding Gender-Based Violence at Universities

Dr. Anthony Collins
Anthony CollinsSchool of Applied Human Sciences, University of KwaZulu Natal
This paper outlines an ongoing project for understanding and managing gender-based violence (GBV) at a South African university. It outlines the research and analysis aspects of this project, showing how the understanding of this problem is often shaped by popular misconceptions of the problems facing students. A wide variety of different forms of gender-based violence are identified, showing the contexts in which they occur and the risks which they present. The paper the challenges the tendency to think of gender-based violence primarily in terms of the rape of women by criminal strangers, and shows instead how GBV is a complex and part of everyday social life on campus, and includes a variety of interactions including normalised sexual coercion in relationships, intimate-partner violence and homophobia. This research and analysis allows for a clearer grasp of the different problems of gender-based violence on campus and strategies that would be useful in managing it. The paper provides of framework for understanding the specific research finding presented in the following papers by Gordon and du Randt.

Acting against gender-based violence at universities

This paper explores the interventions for managing gender-based violence (GBV) proposed by an ongoing project for understanding and managing gender-based violence at a South African university. Drawing on the research and analysis outlined in previous presentations, it draws attention to some limitations of the security and counselling approaches to managing GBV on campus, and highlights a broader range of interventions. These include the development of peer support organisations, collaborative networks of service providers and university decision makers, and the need for open discussion on the often taboo issues around GBV with clear public support for survivors. It also entails developing academic modules that challenge social norms supporting GBV and explore strategies for non-violent conflict resolution and victim support. The paper draws together the findings and suggestions explored in the previous papers on this theme, and offers an integrated model for managing gender-based violence at South African universities, while drawing attention to some of the problems and pitfalls facing the implementation these ideas.