Faculty of Health Sciences Symposium -Tackling systemic enablers of gender and sexual orientation-based violence (GSOBV) in Health Sciences: disclosure, interrogation and intervention
UJ FHS SYMPOSIUM
# Tackling systemic enablers of gender and sexual orientation-based violence (GSOBV) in Health Sciences: disclosure, interrogation and intervention
The current scourge on gender based violence (GBV) in South Africa is a societal ill stemming from deep-seated intolerances and violence against females as well as gender and sexual minorities. The recent media reports on the spread of GBV to universities is cause for great concern as it suggests that perhaps university spaces are not as safe as presumed to be. The list of victims and survivors of GBV in South African universities continue to mount. Universities have an important role to play in combating GBV. The role mainly comprises two aspects: issues of safety and inclusivity. The major challenge universities face today is to determine measures needed to improve safety on campuses and residences, and to promote gender equality.
In grappling with this challenge, the department of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences (MIRS) on 27 September 2021 held a symposium on gender and sexual orientation-based violence (GSOBV). The title of the symposium was #Tackling systemic enablers of GSOBV in Health Sciences: disclosure, interrogation and intervention.
The purpose of the symposium was to initiate a dialogue led by students regarding their narratives on GSOBV within the health sciences domain. It was envisioned that the dialogue would generate insights for the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) to engage with issues of gender and sexuality as manifested in its programs, systems and processes.
The event was hosted via the Zoom meeting platform and students across the seven departments of the Faculty were invited to attend. Professor Craig Vincent-Lambert, the Vice-Dean of Teaching and Learning, gave the welcome address. Dr Riaan van de Venter, a researcher with a special interest in developing strategies to promote more inclusive environments for gender and sexual minorities, based at the Nelson Mandela University disclosed some key hidden enablers of gender and sexual orientation based inequalities inherent to health professions education. They stressed that these enablers require urgent attention and constitute a good starting point for Faculties of Health Sciences seeking to transform its programs, systems and processes. The student panel – Bontle Morulane, Lucia Mohale, Tanya Wagner and Clement Racheku – interrogated the enablers articulated by Dr van de Venter and proposed possible solutions. The panel comprised students from the departments of MIRS, Social work and Community Development, Chiropractic and Podiatry respectively. Mr Simiso Ntuli, Chairperson of the Transformation Committee FHS, moderated the panel discussion. In her closing remarks, Professor Shahana Rasool, a renowned activist on GBV, suggested interventions to mitigate GBV in particular.
Having lost a student to GBV in the university residence, Mrs Lynne Hazell, the head of the MIRS department, reiterated the importance of having a student voice leading the conversation on GSOBV. In her view, interventions to mitigate GSOBV in universities would not be effective unless they take into account the students’ voices. When delivering the vote of thanks, Mrs Lindiwe Gumede, a lecturer in the MIRS department, expressed her gratitude for the insightful deliberations on GSOBV, and one of the series of dialogues yet to come.
It is with great pleasure to announce that Prof Saheem Khan, requested that the student input be submitted to her. This is a sign of our commitment of the FHS at UJ, towards the national fight against GSOBV by first transforming our spaces to become safe and all-inclusive.