I believe that if more men read women’s stories, then communication will be better between men and women…. If men read women’s stories consistently… it would lead to reduced rates of violence against women… because reading the stories of women will bring a kind of intimate familiarity with their experiences, which would in turn cause men to see the full humanity of women. And it is more difficult to abuse a being whom you know to be your full equal.

- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2021

In this online exhibition five student researchers tell their stories of campus rape culture at Stellenbosch University, inviting you on their journey with them, with the hope that you will grow in your understanding of the full humanity of women and how this is affected by campus rape culture. To ensure their safety, all five student researchers have chosen pseudonyms and avatars to represent them on this website. Their voice notes have also been re-recorded by volunteers who are unattached to the project.

Below you can learn more about each of the student researchers and how they experienced the research project. To visit the page detailing a student researcher’s specific journey in answering the research question, please click on her avatar.


CyberStorm is a Congolese student in her final year. She is 22 and grew up in the Western Cape. Before the initial lockdown, she worked at a local pub where she gained valuable knowledge about the role of alcohol in student life. 

“I just wanted (people) to know this like comes from the heart, you know… I put a lot of myself into the work, like it’s really hard to separate myself in the work and where the line starts and where it ends. But yeah, I feel like I just want it to be known that it is not really meant in an attacking way. It comes from a place of caring… I know that a lot of the time (my voice notes may) come off… a bit tough (and) a bit straightforward. But it’s mostly just because I care. And so feel like my work should just be taken like that.”



B.v is a womxn humanities student at Stellenbosch University, majoring in anthropology. She is a fourth generation Indian South African from Kwa-Zulu Natal. She loves her rainbow nation and the work put in to uplift her generation. Now it’s her turn to ensure a space for a greater spectrum of colours. 

“I really enjoyed it. It took me a few tries to get a proper approach to people and to hear the stories.  I had a method of – What did I see? How did I feel? What do they feel? What does this tell us? A lot of the time people were very welcoming to me taking pictures. I found the pictures can also be used as a weapon, so when I was walking back from Vensters with my two female friends and big Afrikaner rugby guys tried to run at us, I was not gonna accept this behaviour.  I found the voice notes a lot more fun than the photos because they forced you to interact with people — this is when I got into the core of the research. It was really a space where I could grow and of non-judgment. I would love to have the voice notes of people telling us their real stories to be printed and stuck around campus for a lot of people to see. Now looking back at all my pictures and interviews, it could be overwhelming just to see so much hatred and abuse in small little Stellenbosch. But discussing these things makes it feel a little bit less of a burden on my shoulders. Because there’s so many people working towards change. So that’s really beautiful to witness.”



Ainsley is a master’s student in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, who started working full-time while this project was on-going. She is 23, white and grew up in Johannesburg.

“I think it’s just been a huge growth opportunity for me…because before I was always passionate about gender-based violence, but I never felt like I had the voice for it… Of course it infuriated me – what was happening – but I didn’t understand the ramifications of it. And I think participating in this study has given me some kind of internal strength. And also a voice to speak up and know that it’s actually more than okay to be angry and like, not agree with some things. But I also think the main thing that I’ve learned is the power of women when we actually unite together… It’s changed my life, I guess, to say the least.”



Jezabel is currently a final year BDiv student at the Faculty of Theology. She is a 21-year-old woman of colour with Afrikaans as both her mother tongue and her cultural context. She is interested in post-colonial, feminist and trauma research and has lived in both the Western and Northern Cape. She sees her identity as intersectional and multi-layered in ways that shape her current existence. 

“I felt a range of mixed emotions as I did this research project. It was insightful but I also often felt frustrated, angry and at times, limited. I found out more about my friends that I did not know that they were experiencing and some of the stories also amplified my own experiences which could feel heart-breaking. I wish I had taken more pictures now but I was worried about invading people’s privacy so we often chose together how to represent their story pictorially. The voice notes helped me find my voice in lifegiving ways and to verbalise what is going on which was empowering and a safe haven for me. The voice notes created intimacy and connection through storytelling. I even had to use laughter to detach myself. At times this project caused tensions between me and my male friends. As a result of this project I have new questions about how people are raised in their homes. I feel that creating more awareness on these issues on campus is key.” 

Final year student at the Faculty of Law


Elizabeth Eyre is a final year student at the Faculty of Law. She is a black 21-year-old who grew up in the Eastern Cape.

“I mean for me, from the get go, I felt very comfortable. The people that I was working with on this project also made me feel very safe and comfortable. My thoughts and ideas were welcomed. I was encouraged to, you know, not only do my best, but also to look after my mental health and make sure that I’m fine… Yes, it is very emotionally draining, the things that you find out and the stories that you hear. It does take a toll on you emotionally, but because there was such a good support system, I found that I was okay throughout. So I had a good experience… People like to participate when they feel like they’re contributing to the greater good. So maybe you want to approach people in a way that make them feel like they’re going to be a part of something that’s going to make a huge impact… I think people are more prone to want to participate when they know ‘oh, I’m going to be a part of something that is going to make a huge significant change’… I think that’s what I found when I thoroughly explained what the project was about and the objective of the project. People were more likely to be like ‘oh, okay, cool’.”


The following terms are often used by the student researchers, but may be unknown to you:

  • “Rez”: ‘Rez’ is short for ‘student residence’, the official SU accommodation where students can stay on campus. ‘Hostel’ or ‘dormitory’ are synonyms.
  • “HK”: This is an acronym for ‘Huis Komitee” or “House Committee”, the student leadership council of a residence.
  • “Vensters”: Vensters forms part of the 10-day welcoming programme for first-year students. Residences and private student organisations are randomly paired up to produce a 15-minute show that includes a storyline with dances.
  • “Skakels”: Skakels (a Afrikaans word) refers to organised events where two residences (almost always a men’s residence and a women’s residence) come together to socialise.