Rhodes students protest half naked against rape

Dozens of Rhodes University students protested half naked yesterday to make a poignant point against the rape culture they say pervades the university.

Rhodes spokeswoman Catherine Deiner earlier said students had the right to protest but their actions would not be allowed to infringe on the rights of others.

But yesterday some students, who did not wish to be named for fear of intimidation, said their rights had been infringed without consequence.

Some students questioned the right of protesters to disrupt their lectures.

“We are talking about issues of consent here,” said one student on social media. “What then, makes it okay for you to think that you can force people to join the protest, or to stop them from studying?”

The university consistently insisted there was no intention to seek an interdict against the protesters.

But the Dispatch learnt it had intended to bring an urgent interdict on oral evidence but abandoned it yesterday afternoon as negotiations between management and the SRC were ongoing.

Mabizela last night said there would be no interdict as productive discussions were still under way.

He said the issues raised by the students were pertinent and needed to be resolved. Sexual assault on campus must be eliminated.

The protests were sparked by the publication on social media of a list of 11 Rhodes University students accused of sexual assault.

At least one reportedly occupies a position on the SRC.

Students say the rape culture at Rhodes has to be addressed.

They are questioning the effectiveness of the university’s policies around rape and sexual assault.

At the time of writing, students had moved away from the half-naked protest and were on their way to disrupt a test being written at the Great Hall.

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