Universities in South Africa suffer from an unusually high rate of sexual abuse and sexual assault. However, there is a global of trend regarding cases of sexual abuse within all universities. Students at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada decided that they would study sexual abuse within universities worldwide, and come to a conclusion as to why women are so often sexual victims on campuses.

A Dangerous Combination 

The study highlighted a few trends on campus; trends that they believe create the perfect environment for sexual predators. The first is a reference to university culture. Universities all over the world have become very large semi-public spaces for a younger generation. The university culture fostered by so many young university goers encourages sexual activities between men and women. Furthermore, because of the high numbers of students, there is little space for group cohesion and the ability for youths to get to know each other intimately. Combine this lack of personal interaction and the high demand for sex, and what is created is an environment that is prone to sexual abuse.

Additionally, university students have access to drugs and alcohol, and students normally partake in events where both substances are in excess. Responsibly this would all make for a fun party, but unfortunately, the abovementioned environment coupled with the cognitive repressive qualities of drugs is often found to be a motivating factor for sexual abuse!

What Needs To Be Done? 

The above question does not imply that nothing is being done to alleviate the problem within South Africa. However, there is a lot more room for improvement. The following study revealed that there are two possible ways of reducing the cases of sexual assault on university campuses. While one method is purely reactive, the other is proactive in its creation of a supportive university culture.

  • Firstly, centres need to be developed that can assist and facilitate the needs of sexual abuse/assault victims. Volunteers, coordinators and psychologists are available for consultation, while centres also advance cases of sexual assault that may be taken to court.
  • Lastly, universities need to encourage the creation of a student community or society. This can be done by supporting the creation and maintenance of fraternities, clubs and sports teams, but ensuring that members are also controlled through a strict and disciplinary code of conduct.

Ultimately, both courses of action have resulted in fewer instances of sexual abuse across a number of universities within Canada. It makes one wonder about the importance of university communities tied to the university and presided by a membership of students. Maybe more work needs to be done with regards to this in future?

For more information regarding student workshops and research-based social societies at VUT, click on the LINK.

We look forward to seeing you all on campus!