This week has been shattering for women in South Africa. We mourn the loss of vibrant young women and we mourn the loss of any illusions of safety we may have clung to. As the DSG community our hearts go out to the family and friends of Uyinene Mrwetynna and to the communities that she touched. In particular we hold in our prayers our friends at Kingswood College, our old girls at UCT, staff and students at Rhodes University, and Uyinene’s friends at the DSG. We are also mindful that she is not the only woman who died violently this week or this month and there are families who are traumatised and mourning across our country. This has to stop. Rape and other forms of violence against women may or may not be used consciously as a political tool but their very real and present threat effectively constrains more than half of our population. Constant fear and vigilance limits presence, creativity and productivity, to say nothing of the impact of trauma.
As an educational institution invested in developing young women who work hard, dream big, care deeply and make a meaningful contribution to society, we condemn the violence that limits their opportunities and choices, even those as simple as going for a run or studying late in the library. We call on our leaders and on all men to acknowledge that this is a crisis, that it is systematically destroying our country and that, as a national priority, it needs to be addressed in a considered, effective and sustained way. Our whole response to violence against women as a society needs to change. It needs to be condemned as the outrage that it is by all people across faiths, cultures, genders and generations. And whilst perpetrators need to be apprehended and held to account, until we take responsibility, as a country, for the ways in which we each either contribute to or resist a national culture in which violence is endemic and men feel entitled to women’s bodies, we will not achieve the change that we long for.