“Rape is…”: Chanco women’s affairs directorate launches rape awareness campaign

February 16, 2018   Tawonga Msowoya
Student solidarity in the rape awareness campaign

On Friday the 19th of January, 2018, a day dubbed “Black Friday”, the Chancellor College Women’s Affairs directorate invited the entire college community, and supporters alike, to join them in solidarity in the condemnation of all acts of rape and sexual violence, and the perpetuation of rape culture. By appealing to the public to mark the launch of this campaign by wearing black, the directorate and its members endeavored to raise awareness on the various manifestations of rape, and the many ways in which as individuals, we contribute to the creation of an environment that allows rape culture, and its accompanying negative manifestations to thrive. Further, members of the directorate aimed to use this campaign as a way of getting the student body actively involved in the fight against rape, and to prompt them to stop viewing rape and sexual violence as something that only affects its victims, but rather as a problem that effects the entire society, and one that should can only be solved with collective effort.

Members of the directorate initiated the first phase of the campaign in the five days prior to Black Friday by circulating posters and memos to raise awareness on the campaign, and by pasting “Rape Is” slogans on all campus notice boards. These posters articulated the many actions that constitute rape, ranging from sexually engaging with an intoxicated and incapacitated individual to issues of male rape, female on female rape as well as male on male rape. The activities that took place on Black Friday included an awareness desk set up by the main quadrangle, and professional photography that allowed the student body to show their support by holding a placard and having their picture taken, In addition to this, the directorate strived to investigate the existing attitudes on rape and issues of sexual consent that prevail in Chanco campus culture, and this was done through the formulation of scenario-based questionnaires and getting the student body to answer said questionnaires from their own views and opinions. 

Interestingly enough, the Black Friday campaign was launched one week after the release of a song entitled “Nzakupanga Rape” by Malawian rapper Mwiza Chavura, in which he graphically details various acts that amount to the violent rape of a woman. The song caused a massive media stir, evoking reactions that ranged from utter disgust and condemnation of the artist and his message, to support of the artist and his freedom of expression. When asked if this song was the reason behind the campaign, Directorate of Women’s Affairs, Phindu Banda, pointed out that it was “more of a reaction to the reactions. From the comments made on social media and the jokes that circulated, it became evident to us that many people in our society do not understand what actions constitute rape, and the dangers of normalizing and trivializing serious issues like rape not only to survivors of sexual assault but to the general culture around us. Actions like these all form a part of a greater and more damaging rape culture that makes it difficult for victims to seek help, and makes it easier for perpetrators to thrive.” 

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