Lisa Vetten

Outlaw speech: Contesting sexual coercion on campus

To law falls the privilege of demarcating and controlling a particular territory as its own. That which it cannot, or will not, claim is pushed beyond its borders to become that which is without law – or outlaw. This is one way to think about the release of a list of men accused of rape…

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The river runs dry: Gender equality in South Africa

In 1789 France’s Ancien Regime, its monarchy and traditions, were swept away by the tide of the French Revolution — only for these laws and customs to reappear some years later. Struck by this, Alexis de Tocqueville remarked that it was as if a river had plunged underground and resurfaced a distance away, the river…

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Budget votes revealing of state’s agenda

The annual budget speeches delivered by the finance minister provoke a bonanza of commentary and coverage — then the chatter falls silent. The budget speech is really an entrée that sketches the year ahead but does not provide the detail wherein the devil lurks. Flushing him out means paying attention to the departmental budget votes…

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Bullard vs Solomon and the unwritten rules for speaking about rape

With its dredging of historical slights and recycling of resentments nurtured over time, Team Bullard vs Team Solomon has all the hallmarks of a grudgefest. This personalised process of verbal pushing and shoving has not only diminished the sort of ethical public sphere needed for discussion of sexual violence, but also endorsed uncritically the unwritten…

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The SAPS crime statistics – measuring what exactly?

It’s time for the Great Annual Bad Maths and Funny Logic Debate — you know, the one we have every year in which the SAPS tells us what a great job they’re doing combating crime and we all pick holes in their arguments in response. At one level there’s need of this, at another level…

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Anatomy of power: Sexual misconduct in South Africa’s polity

Irregular employment practices, furtive, adulterous sex in the workplace, rape, blackmail, secret meetings, power and conspiracy — they’re all there, the ingredients central to any riveting political scandal. But Zwelinzima Vavi’s sexual liaison with a female subordinate is so much more than entertainment for the excitable twitterazzi. Indeed, the sexual misconduct that it illustrates and…

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Beyond the noise: Acting against rape

I am a panellist on SABC2’s Big Debate. The subject is violence against women and the discussions dense with the mismatch of ideas. A sample: Satanism stalks our schools. We live in a demoncrazy — not a democracy. Women who wear 3cm skirts abuse men. Patriarchy is deeply rooted in our lives and thinking. The…

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Activists do make a difference, Haffajee

There’s an old philosophical riddle that goes like this: If a tree falls in the forest and no-one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound? Updated for a contemporary 21st century South Africa reeling from the rape-murder of Anene Booysen it might read like this: Does work exist if Ferial Haffajee…

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