Bodies Fight Back
The UFS Student Safety Forum is a student-led safety initiative seeking to solve womxn and LGBTQIA+ issues at UFS, focusing on safety. The forum has produced a booklet called “Bodies Fight Back” which collects stories, poetry, thoughts and suggestions around safety at the University of the Free State.
The University of the Free State´s safety campaign is aimed at giving tips to potential victims to ‘be safe’ including advice such as walking in groups. This campaign, however, fails to address the core problem – men. Rather than improve safety by reducing danger, the university places the onus of safety on the potential victims. This also normalises the perception that survivors are complicit in any danger they face because of the actions they take such a “walking out at night” or “wearing a short skirt”.
For a large part of our history, womxn, the queer community and the trans community have survived through subjugation and ostracisation. Still today, many laws and socio-cultural norms deny them the ability to find expression in what should be a free and open society. At UFS, students face physical and
sexual assault, kidnapping, burglary and even death. The objective of “Bodies Fight Back” is to speak to both the survivor and the non-victim ally. For the former, the goal is to show solidarity and collectivise, and for the latter, the goal is to reveal what change must be advocated.
Safety is both the physical absence of violation and the perceptive feeling of being safe. Womxn and LGBTQIA+ students are at greater risk due to our community’s patriarchal socialisation. Therefore, safety initiatives should include attempting to counter our current socialisation and prevent it
from materialising into harm. If the university does nothing then bodies will fight back!
The UFS Student Safety Forum is a student-led safety initiative seeking to solve womxn and LGBTQIA+ issues at UFS, focusing on safety. This includes assault, whether physical or not, perception of safety, inclusivity of various spaces of the university and the culture of the university. This issue does also intersect on basis of race, disability and nationality and the forum advocate for all groups facing safety issues.