Prevention Of Gender Based Violence Begins At Home, Says Expert

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While schools are meant to be safe spaces for children to grow and learn, research has found that young girls in schools are experiencing Gender-Based Violence (GBV).

 


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Earlier this year, Advocate Praise Kambula revealed that in 2020/21, South Africa saw a 22% increase in cases of rape perpetrated by children, and the youngest of those was 10 years old while the oldest was 16 years of age.

Kambula explained that no child is born a criminal, but it is a learned behaviour that parents need to address.

Deevia Bhana from the SA Research Chair for Gender and Childhood Sexuality at the University of KwaZulu-Natal says that schools reflect broader society. Therefore the challenges faced by women in the form of GBV in South Africa are carried into schools.

There is a real concern, as girls suffer abuse on the way to school, inside classrooms, on playgrounds, inside school toilets and on the way home from school.

Bhana explains that abuse takes place in different forms. This includes inappropriate touching, verbal abuse and harassment.

“In many ways, the school may be ground zero in terms of reporting sexual violence that may be happening in the home or in the community. Unfortunately then the school re-produces that sort of violence because girls face sexual harassment [at schools]”.

Bhana believes that the complexity of GBV in schools means that there is not one solution or a “magic bullet”.

She says the social norms around the way boys and girls are expected to act must be addressed first. This behaviour is learned at home and will therefore be perpetuated in schools.

Bhana says that this must be addressed 365 days of the year and not just reserved for the 16 day of activism or Women's month.

 

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