This South African Student Was Banned From Her School For Protesting Gender-Based Violence

In 2016, Yolanda Dyantyi was banned from her university for p*rotesting gender-based v*iolence and continues to fight for women today.

Gender-based v*iolence is a worldwide problem that governments everywhere have been slow to address, much less deal with in any real way.

Yolanda Dyantyi is at the forefront of that fight in her country of South Africa.

As the country prepares for elections this week and political parties push their platforms, activists like Dyantyi find themselves questioning whether any of it will lead to meaningful change.

“It’s tiring sitting in meetings with the government when they don’t want to recognize that GBV is a national crisis, but we can’t keep protesting the same shit,” she told Buzzfeed in a lengthy profile.

“I’m scared for our country, but how can you not be in fight mode when your life is at risk every day?”

Dyantyi explained just how she went from bright-eyed freshman to seasoned activist working with victims of gender-based v*iolence. After becoming a v*ictim of s*exual a*ssault herself, she joined with other women on the Rhodes University campus to protest against the school's unwillingness to address the issue in 2016.

Using the hashtag #Chapter212 -- which calls back to the constitution's declaration that everyone is in control of their own bodies -- the young women started a movement on campus, hoping to shame the school into doing something to stop s*exual a*ssault.

The movement spread and reached a crescendo when a student created a Facebook group called the "RU Reference List", which included the names of 11 men a*ccused of s*exual a*ssault or rape by women on campus.

Thousands of students p*rotested on campus, and a small group went to the dorms of some of the men named in the list. Dyantyi and other p*rotesters say nothing happened other than screaming, but the men reported to school officials that they were d*ragged out of their rooms and a*ssaulted. The school believed the men over Dyantyi and the other protesters.

She was banned for life from Rhodes University. No other schools would take her because of the publicity around what happened. She now focuses her work on helping v*ictims of gender-based v*iolence after tiring of the political process. The Buzzfeed profile details how many of the efforts by activist to work with the ANC-led government have fallen flat, been poorly funded or ignored.

Movement leader Mandisa Khanyile told Buzzfeed that their efforts were making a difference and the government had no choice but to listen to them. But change is slow.

“South Africans are great at paperwork," she said.

"No one can out-paperwork us. We will show you the best, most beautiful policies, the most stellar constitution. We will out-paperwork you any day. Implementation is the issue.”

When asked by Marie Clare in 2018 whether her work every gets tiring, she said,"To live? Yes, definitely. To fight a system thats historically been against black womxn? Yes.

"To try carving my way and that of others, not by choice, but because someone generally has to? Yes, it all gets tiring. But I soldier on, and drink wine and smoke cigarettes in between."

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