11 June 2019

South Africa: Women At SA Varsities - Harrassed, Vulnerable and Under-Represented

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(file photo)

Inadequate security at one SA university left female students and staff vulnerable to attacks by intruders, while the staff complement at a number of other varsities was skewed in favour of men, a report has found.

The number of women working at Nelson Mandela University (NMU) in Port Elizabeth has significantly increased since it was established in 2005. In 2005, 41% of the staff were women, while in 2018 this had risen to 51%, according to the Commission for Gender Equality's latest report.

However, despite narrowing the gender gap, NMU has struggled with ensuring the safety of students and staff members, particularly women, on its six campuses.

In 2017 Kwanele Kilana broke into a computer lab at the university's fashion design school and raped one woman and sexually assaulted another.

Kilana, who had scaled the perimeter fence before entering the lab, was convicted of rape and sexual assault in 2018.

In 2018 the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande, reported to Parliament that NMU ranked second for the most reported rape and sexual assault cases at Eastern Cape universities.

The Commission found that NMU lacked adequate security to protect students and staff members from people unlawfully entering the...

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