UNIVERSITY of the Witwatersrand (Wits) students embarked on a silent protest against rape and violence against women on Wednesday afternoon.

Aids Healthcare Foundation regional policy and advocacy manager Larissa Klazinga said the purpose of the event is to highlight the scale of the problem.

"In essence‚ this protest is a protest against rape and finding a way to make the silence around sexual violence visible to people. The majority of rape survivors never report rape primarily because of secondary victimisation and intimidation‚ fear of judgement and stigma‚" said Klazinga.

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Established 10 years ago‚ the silent protest exists to highlight the plight of rape survivors‚ many of whom have contracted sexually transmitted infections due to the lack of access to a post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) drug.

These drugs‚ taken within 72 hours of exposure to unprotected sex‚ help the victim’s body fight off the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

"What we are trying to do is to show the scale of the problem and the only real way you can do that is to put tape across people’s mouths‚ enforcing people to confront the issue‚" Klazinga said.

"What we are hoping to achieve is to raise awareness of the scale of gender-based violence, to get rape survivors the support that they need‚" she added.

The National Victims of Crime Survey results show that the proportion of rape survivors who report the crimes to police decreased 21% between 2011 and 2014.

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Most survivors do not report rapes at police stations‚ and they do not usually get access to PEP.

"We know that rape is massively under-reported in universities and the context is very limited. I can tell you that rape is a massive problem on university campuses‚ but we also know that over the past 10 years‚ there has been a slow progression of activism around gender-based violence‚" Klazinga said.

According to performance targets‚ the police service is expected to reduce violent crime between 4% and 7% per year. This creates a disincentive for police to record all violent crimes reported to them.

TMG Digital