Directed by Rachel Sherwen, Line by Line is a poetic experimental documentary about South African survivors exposing rape culture on university campuses. The screening last night at UCT created a safe space for viewers and survivors to engage and confront their experiences through film and reflection.
The film traced the UCT Survivors movement, which started in 2014. We asked Dela Buhle Gwala, who manages UCT Survivors, whether she thinks anything has changed on campuses in the months that have passed since the time the film was made. This was her response:
“In the last few months, nationally there’s been a process run by HEAIDS (Higher Education HIV/AIDS) programme to create a national framework that dictates how universities deal with sexual violence. I think this has been a direct response to student activism around the issue. At UCT, several units that dealt with different forms of discrimination and social justice issues have been merged (Office for Inclusivity and Change) but there is no clear indicator about how this will improve the way that UCT deals with reported cases of sexual violence.”
Dela explains that UCT UCT Survivors has filed a complaint about the institution with the Gender Commission. The outcome of that is pending. “UCT Survivors also partnered with AHF (Aids Healthcare Foundation) and SART (Sexual Assault Response Team) to host a Silent Protest,” she says. Many survivors have shared their experiences.
“Although, we received a lot of support from Lillian Artz (the head of SART) as well as her research unit (Gender Health and Justice Research Unit), the university still hasn’t provided an office, budget, permanent staff or institutional power to SART. This body is supposed to ensure that cases of sexual violence are dealt with adequately and compassionately. But, the lack of resources and real support from the institution has gagged the level of influence this body could have.”
Here are a few images from the film that have captured something transcendent about the work: