21 May 2019
The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) has welcomed plans by Higher Education Minister Naledi Pandor to gazette a sexual offences policy framework will form the basis for launching a special enquiry into and combating a culture of rape that continues to ravage institutions of higher learning with impunity.
This announcement by Minister Pandor is heralded by FEDUSA’s Social Justice Division in particular as being liberal and will advance the federations’ lobbying efforts as part of the International Labour Conference (ILC) centenary initiatives during June 2019, to drive the Convention and Recommendation on “No Gender Based Violence in the Workplace”.
Female academics have indicated that sexual offences are rife in many universities and often take the form of the obnoxious sex-for-jobs phenomenon, harassment and actual assaults against female academics and students. Many of the offences have either gone unreported or reported but taken unreasonably long times to be concluded because of poor reporting and grievances procedures. It has also emerged that groups of female academics from different universities have been at the forefront of conceptualizing the framework and collaborating with Minister Pandor to get it gazetted as early as possible.
FEDUSA equally remains cognizant of the need for a safe and conducive learning environment for students, following a number of cases and attacks on students that have been reported. The central features of the policy are greatly improved and efficient reporting systems; a strong victim or complainant sensibility; legal accountability and the push for a sexual offenders list or register in order to make these institutions safe for women, stop the rape culture and imprison convicted offenders whether they be male students or academics.
FEDUSA believes that the policy should be actively pursued and implemented on the ground and not allowed to gather dust as has happened to so many good policies in the recent past, in order to make it clear that gender-based violence can never be tolerated.
FEDUSA further calls on Minister Pandor to embrace the principle of social dialogue and ensure that the key outcomes of the process is all – Inclusive, to ensure that engagement with the federations’ affiliated unions in the higher education sector, the Administrative Library and Technical Staff Associates (ALTSA), National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), the Public Servants Association (PSA), South African Parastatal And Tertiary Institutions UNION (SAPTU) and the Tertiary Education National Union Of South Africa (TENUSA) is guaranteed, to ensure that the policy of “nothing for us, without us” is realised.
For interviews please contact:
FEDUSA Vice President : Social Justice and Gender
083 800 5524
FEDUSA Acting General Secretary
079 696 2626
FEDUSA Media and Research Officer
072 637 8096