Following recent protests against rape and sexual assault at the university currently known as Rhodes, a student-made feature length documentary has been brought out.
Titled DISRUPT and produced by student media organisation Activate in collaboration with the Chapter 2.12 movement, the documentary features interviews with staff and students of the university, on the ground footage of protest action, and the resultant use of police force on students and workers.
“Filming for this documentary started as the #RUReferenceList protests started,” explains executive producer of the documentary, Mitchell Parker. “The night it all began, we started filming. The idea for the documentary came later, but we knew that this was going to be an important movement and one that would need to be documented in the journalistic sense from the word go.”
The two weeks of protest all began in mid-April on a quiet Sunday evening in Grahamstown, when an anonymously published list naming alleged perpetrators of rape and sexual assault began circulating on social media. The list, later named the #RUReferenceList, soon went viral and was to be the catalyst for a series of protests, demonstrations, discussions and disruptions by the students, workers and staff of the university currently known as Rhodes.
Discussions on rape culture and its manifestation in campus settings had been boiling under for some time, spearheaded in days prior to the #RUReferenceList by the Chapter 2.12 movement, who committed themselves to challenging and raising awareness around the university’s ineffectual policies on rape and sexual assault on and around campus.
After posters detailing instances of mismanagement were placed around campus and consistently removed by university management, students were already mobilising, and by the time the list made its rounds on social media, they were geared up for a full academic shutdown.
Police action was swiftly taken by the university, seeing days of tear gas, rubber bullets, student arrests and hastily filed interdicts. Throughout it all, protesting students and staff as well as those in solidarity remained resolute.
“Rape culture isn’t something that exists in a vacuum, and the UCKAR situation is seen replicated all over the country,” explains Mitchell. “Hopefully it’ll get people to question how they might contribute towards rape culture, or demand better of their institutions. We also hope that it holds a mirror up to the management of universities across the country for them to see the emotional and political struggle of its students under the weight of this crisis in equality.”
Watch the full documentary below and read more on the protests at Activate.
Director and editor: Michael Dorfling // Head of cinematography: Sarah Knight and Chloe Osmond // Executive Producer: Mitchell Parker // Poster design: Sara Steiniger.
Cover image by Ivan Blazic.