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RAPE OF GIRLS IN SOUTH AFRICAN SCHOOLS

When I was 21, I married a man who mentored children. He also molested them. I did not know his evil thoughts while I shared his bed, although his physical and sexual abuse of me should have warned me.

Long after I had divorced him and moved on, I was told that he had been abusing his step-daughter from his next marriage for eleven years of her life.

I'm glad he is dead. I seethe when I think of how many other lives he probably destroyed. He got off lightly, never forced to pay for the destruction he caused. Our stiff-necked community turned its religious face the other way. Instead of forcing him to pay for the wreckage he'd caused, he and his sins were enshrined in eulogies of praise and promoted into the ranks of angels.

A young girl, very close to my heart, was raped at boarding school when she was 13. The family had sent her to a 'posh' school, for we wanted our children to get the best education available. We thought that if we took our girls out of the poor areas into the 'better' schools, they would be saved. This is sadly not so.

Schools are the very places that should offer protection to our children because there, they are told, they will find responsible adults who will help to create a safe environment in which to help them achieve their best. Yet it is in school that many children, especially girls, are exposed to violence.

Those of us who know poverty see education as THE way out of the mire where the odds are so hugely stacked against us. Desparate to succeed and to achieve an improved way of life, we often expose ourselves to the risk of exploitation by more influential people.

At school the teacher is a 'loco parentis', standing in for the parents. This is a heavy responsibility. They also teach respect for human rights under the school curriculum. That is all very well. But if the environment in which this learning takes place does not support the lesson, then how can the children take this seriously?

My country, South Africa (SA) was, within the first five years after the Second World War, hit with the scourge of Apartheid, which kept people in their place through violence. This bred more violence in retaliation, and so it escalated. And it is still fueled by poverty and unemployment.

In countries where violence is seen to be the norm, violence is what children will learn, for they learn what they experience. In societies where there is seemingly no protection for them, where there are no safe places, the vulnerability of children is increased. The girls, especially, are exposed to increased sexual exploitation. In 'fragile states' where safety checks are not a spending priority, children are left unprotected.

Violence has an infectious, long life. There is an 'uncle' in our family who had incestuously abused one of our little girls. I find it hard to be nice to this man. Every time I see him I want to smash his face in. I want to have him castrated. He is now a useless old man who can hardly walk, whose teeth are falling out, but I am still angry beyond imagination about the pain he caused. And I call myself non-violent.

I remember falling heavily in love with my maths teacher when I was 16, in the late 1950s. I remember the excitement I felt when he used sexualised language with us, a giggling group of teenage girls. I shudder now when I think how close I was to exploitation by that teacher.

That was the same period when my dad was sacked from his job as a teacher for adultery because someone on the church board (which in those days was what the school governing body is today), had reported him.

My dad was unfortunate. The punishment for his actions was severe, it seems, now that the consequences for adultery are more lenient. But my dad was a role model in our society, and his treatment by those in authority gave out a clear message of intolerance of unethical behaviour by teachers.

Proud to have come from a culture that, in those days, took the misbehaviour of its teachers very seriously, I now ask, why does that same culture seem to tolerate and even give power to gender-based violence?

The rape figures in SA are shocking. In a national study done by the Medical Research Council of SA it was found that 33% of rape of girls in SA is committed by school teachers (reported in ‘The Lancet’ in January 2002)

‘What is happening here?’ one asks. What are the reasons? Is school not supposed to be a safe place for children, where they can be taught to trust and be trusted?

Human Rights Watch (2001:6-9) reported that 'Girls stay at school but suffer in silence, having learned that submission is a survival skill and sexual violence at school is inescapable.' How sad is that!

Within the last few months of 2011, charges against a teacher accused of raping 11 pupils in his school were dropped because of insufficient evidence. (See IOL News 20 November 2011 http://www.iol.co.za). What can be the reason for children not being able to convince the authorities of the abuse?

Their experience has taught those girls that their complaints might be met with disbelief by administrators who are known not to take sexual abuse seriously. The girls would have seen how other girls have been stigmatised because they had the gumption to stand up and complain. They might have witnessed how school heads have hushed up crimes.

They are acquainted with victims’ families who have been urged to accept 'seduction damages' that do not even cover bus fares to hospital. And by rumour or personal knowledge, those girls know that the school principal or local policeman might, themselves, have taken their cut out of those payments.

Those same young people who are being raped by their teachers would believe that it is okay to engage in early and unprotected intercourse with an elder in power. These are the girls who are afraid to refuse sex because they fear abandonment or violence. They are easily coerced. Plus, they have 'negative perceptions about condoms, and low perceptions about personal risk, in addition to lack of privacy and time,' (‘Scared at School’ by Human Rights Watch, 2001)

According to Fiona Leach and Pamela Machakanja ('Sexual Violence in Schools: Breaking the Silence', 2003), 'Other teachers often choose to ignore what is going on, principals are reluctant to report the matter because of a bureaucratic investigation, and pupils and parents are either intimidated or lack information about how to make a complaint.'

Is it true that schools are only happy to report suspected sexual abuse if it happens outside their grounds, but when it happens Inside, 'it is a whole other story, there's a big cover-up', as stated in their own journal, 'The Teacher'?

If girls know that the teachers do nothing when, in front of their eyes, boys copy the behaviour of their elders at home, in the community and at school, what are they supposed to think?

I quoted the figures of my research to Mrs Leggitt, a female teacher in Cape Town. 'I find the statistics shocking,' she said. '33% is extremely high.'

What can be the cause of this explosion of rapes in schools - I asked her.

'There are lots of social problems at home and in the environment,' she said. 'That's perhaps why the rate is so high. It could also be that teachers are offering children money and food and afterwards have sex with a child, who might be a minor. That is rape. The child is grateful and the only payment they can give is their bodies. They need love so, by giving their bodies, they think that is love.'

'Some of these relationships are approved by parents because educators are able to provide money to impoverished households,' parliament was told in a briefing in 2002 by the Department of Education in SA. Oh dear!

As a grandmother, I think of those other grandmothers, the long-suffering 'gogos', who care for thousands of children orphaned through AIDS. They, who still live in poverty, might just be amongst those who, because of their need, encourage sexual involvement with a teacher so as to be free of a financial burden for education.

I have tried to find studies that refute the 2002 figures, but have not been able to do so. According to ‘The Sowetan’ newspaper of 24 March 2011 in an article by Elvis Masoga, 'Growing scourge of the loverboy teacher sweethearts', the situation is exploding.

The readers’ comments to that article shocked me to the core: men flagrantly placing blame for girls being raped on the girls themselves, criticising them for wanting to look good and for being proud of their bodies. A young man, calling himself PKAY, in an honest comment to that article, wrote:

'I finished my high school six years ago. From grade 10 to grade 12, we all knew that most (probably 60%) of the male teachers were involved with our female classmates. It was a phenomenon so common that we were eventually desensitised... So this is nothing new...'

I read that a lot has been done to address this situation in SA since 2002. But much more needs to be done.

All of us have a huge responsibility to clean up our classrooms for our children. We could start by more openly supporting our good teachers. As women we must strengthen our men and together constantly look for new ways to engage teachers and older male students in discussions about what positive masculinity means. We need to showcase examples of real men creating safe environments for everybody.

I would like to encourage the Department of Education in SA to consider strengthening the role of female Classroom Assistants. I suggest that their role in the classroom be reversed so that they are there to protect and support the students, and not solely to assist the teacher, as they are doing now.

The idea originated In Guinea and Sierra Leone, where women with limited education are given brief training about safety, security and child protection legislation, and are then put into classrooms to be there with girl students all day. They also do home visits. The girls' attendance and activities are reported to a supervisor monthly.

A critical task that they perform is to collect class grades and to keep those away from teachers. Students do not then need to approach teachers about their grades. This reduces opportunities for teachers to manipulate and exploit girls for sex in exchange for altering their results.

SA has the potential and proven track record to reverse the legacy of violence that Apartheid has left us with. Despite being a young democracy, we have one of the most advanced education budgets in the world, for education gets a large 20% of state expenditure – well above the average of most other countries.

In time we WILL reverse the culture of violence in schools. We will support our teachers who are all being defiled by a minority of miscreants amongst them. Together, we South Africans will once again prove to the world that the same arrows that attacked and killed the giant of Apartheid are still accurately aimed at, and will annihilate, its legacy of gender-based violence.

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future a program of World Pulse that provides rigorous new media and citizen journalism training for grassroots women leaders. World Pulse lifts and unites the voices of women from some of the most unheard regions of the world.

Comments

Stella Paul's picture

Very important issue

Dear Monica

Physical abuse of girl students by teachers are a reality in every society, though seldom do we see an organized effort to address either the issue or heal the girls who undergo such traumatic experience. You know a couple of years ago, 4 school students (girls, classmates) committed suicide by drinking poison in Bangalore - one of the biggest cities of the country. Nobody filed a case, but there were whispers of the girls having experienced something bad and ugly. Who can say that it wasn't physical abuse in the school?

Thanks for writing about this issue and giving a message of hope. Love

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Monica Clarke's picture

OMG

What can we do, Stella? Just keep trying and leaving a trail of words for other young people to use as foundations for a better world, if nothing else. Please, Stella, as I'm asking everyone I'm writing to today, if you know of any projects/programmes in which male teachers and older male students are involved as role models to stop GBV in schools, please let me know. I need ideas to see how we can between us try to attack this problem...

Love and hugs, Monica

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

Stella Paul's picture

Sure!

Will surely do that Monica! That would be a constructive step towards solving the issue. Love

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

usha kc's picture

Dear Sister Monica,

Dear Sister Monica,
We women/ Girls are not safe in home, school , working area, street.............. thank you for sharing your personal experience too it's touchy dear.

love n hugs

Dear Usha

Involving teachers and older boy students

Thanks again for your encouragement about my writing. If you know of any projects/programmes in which male teachers and older male students are involved as role models please let me know. I need ideas to see how this problem can be solved!

Love and light from Monica in France

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

usha kc's picture

Dear Sister Monica,

Dear Sister Monica,
We women/ Girls are not safe in home, school , working area, street.............. thank you for sharing your personal experience too it's touchy dear.

love n hugs

amiesissoho's picture

Monica dear, engaging men and

Monica dear, engaging men and boys is crucial in addressing gender based violence. I also believe that because of awareness more cases are being reported in the media than in the past when abuse was kept as secret in families thus endorsing impunity. Thanks for the courage to speak out and against GBV.

Amie

Dear Amie

Thanks again for your encouragement about my writing. If you know of any projects/programmes in which male teachers and older male students are involved as role models please let me know. I need ideas to see how this problem can be solved!

Love and light from Monica in France

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

Leslie Stoupas's picture

Such an important subject

This is such an important issue you have addressed, not only to stop violence against girls, but also to provide them with safe places in which they can be educated. Thank you so much for sharing this story!

Leslie Stoupas

Monica Clarke's picture

Male Teachers and boys

Hi Leslie

Howz Glenwood Springs doing today? Here in the Dordogne in the south of France where it is known for its frost during the winter, the sun shines today Wednesday 18 January, and for a change I feel that winter is indeed going to be ending sometime.

Thanks for your comment, Leslie. Please, if you know of any projects/programmes in which male teachers and older male students are involved as role models to stop GBV in schools, please let me know. I need ideas to see how this problem between us could be reduces....

Lots of love from Monica (do tell what your phd is about sometime, will you? - monicaclarke@edev.org.uk)

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

Monica Clarke's picture

Sorry, I meant how your

Sorry, I meant how your thesis is going, not what it is about! Do tell. Love and hugs, Monica

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

patf's picture

Stunning

Dear Monica,
I read and re-read your article 3 times. It took that many times for me to absorb what you wrote. Thank goodness you are hopeful that change will come. On so many levels things have to change for young women (girls) so they can think in new ways about themselves and their bodies. Thank you for your powerful writing!
Pat F.

Monica Clarke's picture

Oh Lordie, how I envy you,

Oh Lordie, how I envy you, Pat, living with your child and grandchild. What a lucky, lucky grandma you are! My little grand-one turns 6 on Monday next week and she said on Skype will I come to her party with her, she's got 20 pence to give towards the restaurant. I live in France I said. Oh, she said, we will fetch you at the station early after school then we can go together - like France is just a train ride away on the metro from London, where they live. Oh how I miss them.....

Thanks so much for taking the time to read my article and for taking the time to respond. It is just so sad, isn't it. God help us. Please, if you know of any projects/programmes in which male teachers and older male students are involved as role models to stop GBV in schools, please let me know. I need ideas to see how we can help between us to see how this problem can be reduced...

Monica throws love and light to you across the Atlantic today!

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

noreens's picture

You've written about an

You've written about an important subject. Those poor girls should be getting a proper education without having to pay such a price. You did a good job, Monica.

Noreen

Monica Clarke's picture

Dear Noreen I just spent a

Dear Noreen

I just spent a very intense half hour reading through your posts. Oh lordie, the things you write about are so much part of my experience: The bus rides towards freedom; facing and trying to tear down the points of humiliation as you call them; the ethical dilemmas we face each day when we question to give or not to give to those in need?

Thank you for reaading my story, but thank you more for writing about the issues which we commonly share across a world of difference!

With lots of love from Monica in France

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

ikirimat's picture

so touching

Your voice is loud. Thank you for voicing such an important issue and yet so difficult to talk about. Indeed we need to curb such acts. As you think of mentoring the males. these girls should also be given skills about self esteem assertiveness, risks of getting in sexual relationships e.t.c.

I will be glad to share with you more ideas

Grace Ikirimat

"It takes the hammer of persistence to drive the nail of success."


Juliette Maughan's picture

Breaking the cycle of violence

Monica, thank you for sharing this story. I too would be very angry and frustrated at the fact that this violence is accepted in the society.

I have heard that even here in Barbados, there are many instances where children are abused. The ministry of family has proposed a protocol for recognising abuse and reporting it. Sadly it has not been passed as yet to move towards enforcement.

In the meantime the cycle of violence continues and leaves scars in the society.

Continue to speak out on this issue. It should not be tolerated!

J

Dear Juliette

Thank you for writing to me and encouraging me. Y'know what? I agree that single women are just soooooo needed in our society. This will sound totally selfish, but please stay single for as long as you can, for we as elders, and our children, and their children and children's children, we need you!

Love and hugs from Monica in France

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

Rachael Maddock-Hughes's picture

Shocking

The statistics in your story are shocking and horrifying. I am so glad you shared your story with us--it took courage to do so. Has there been any activity in SA to introduce the Female Classroom Assistants that you mention? This seems like an incredible idea. However, it is also scary that rape in schools is so common that other countries are address this issue as well.

Great frontline journal, keep up the incredible work.

Rachael

"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

Monica Clarke's picture

Thanks, Rachael

Thanks, Rachael for reading my article and for your comment. Introducing Female Classroom Assistants of the type as in Guinea are my proposal to the Department of Education in S Africa. I have asked them in an email to consider whether they might think of upgrading or changing their present system of Classroom Assistants - who now support the teachers instead of the students as I would like to see. I'm awaiting a response from them (fingers crossed they agree,then I might be able to take things further)......watch this space!

Love and hugs, Monica

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

Celine's picture

Thank you Monica for writing

Thank you Monica for writing on this important issue. It is a universal issue as many of our VOF colleagues write on the the same issue. We collectively stand up to condemn any form of violence against women in any country.

Good work.

Celine

Monica Clarke's picture

Dear Celine Thank you for

Dear Celine

Thank you for reading my article, and for your kind words in response. I send you strength in the work you are doing as well. Love and hugs from Monica in France

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

Lisa T's picture

Powerful

Your story is so moving and powerful. I admire your courage in telling this very personal story. Thank you for sharing this information with all of us and shedding light on such an important issue. I'm looking forward to reading more of your work in the future.
-Lisa

Monica Clarke's picture

Hi Lisa

Thanks for reading the article, and for taking the time to respond, Lisa. Hey - how 'bout saying more about yourself in your profile, please? I'd love to get to know you a bit better .....one's always looking for oppotunitie for collaboration and sharing projects.... Love and hugs from Monica in France

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

Dear Monica. I know what you speak. In my family there were abusers of children from physical violence to sexual abuse. The child becomes hopelessly overwhelmed at times she wants to die. Fear grips of his days and it ceases to be happy, only supports survive.

I worked for years with Dr. Victoria Falhberg with families of children victims of domestic violence. She and her husband Tómas Falhberg were donors to the nursery where I worked. I could see that something wrong happened to that child, to have suffered because of pain in childhood parecida.Pedi guidance for them. She was responsible graduate in Domestic Violence at PUC-Rio de Janeiro.

She, Victoria, taught us to perceive the signs of violence that children had, I had 150 children in the nursery. Of these 1% suffered sexual abuse in their homes, 50% physical and psychological violence and 60% negligence as dirty clothes, nails cut, hair unkempt, lack of vaccines, diseases constantes.Os more serious cases we routable to the Public Defender and the lightest we went to the homes and taught to wash clothes and activities necessary for the comfort of family.

A mother burned the hands of his son with only 4 years. She did not want him to learn to be a thief. The punishment applied by this mother, was on account of his son had caught a yogurt in the refrigerator.

She had three small children. She was the maid responsible for cleaning the nursery children.

My boss when he learned of the incident, demanded that I dismiss this employee's work..

I declined.

We knew we needed to learn to deal with the phenomenon of intra family violence. He was part of our lives and the lives of children in our community. We should not let 4 children at risk with Mother Desperate for a failure to deal with their children and take away the livelihood of their children.

The children of this lady grew up, studied and it follows his life as best as possible and had all the support the team led by Dr. Victoria offers and our commitment to support her learn to deal with their difficulties.

As for the sexual abuse, is only of interest to the abuser, who is cowardly and disgusting. I agree with you. Should be serious penalties for this type of monster.
Kisses

Eileen Page's picture

Thank you Monica for sharing

Thank you Monica for sharing your experience and feelings about rape in SA; it is shocking to hear about and especially tragic that it takes place in the schools where we all believe girls will be educated to ultimately be stronger. And, it is a complex and deep rooted issue.

Your story reminded me of a story from another African country where a particular women was regularly abused by her husband - all the women in the village gave the abused woman a whistle. When she blew the whistle; all the women in the village came to her home to support her. The abuser was shamed and stopped. Eventually the strength of groups of women led to better laws.

There is so much more strength in a group and possibly there are ways to change things on the frontline in even more effective ways through the collective strength of the girls, boys and supportive teachers. Education is necessary as is the legal system; however they are slow ways to make real change.

I wonder what creative ways the girls and supportive teachers and boys could envision to effectively prevent the rapes before/as they happen? What would be their "whistle"? A prevention strategy would be so empowering for all the children.

Stay strong....you have huge challenge infront of you!
Eileen

Eileen

Monica Clarke's picture

Please think with me!

Dear Eileen

Thank you so much for your considered response. I do like the idea of a whistle! What a simple way to get people to respond. Yet, how difficult to implement....it would be very interesting to see what the community was like, which was prepared to shame and blame so openly. Wow! They probably have a very strong moral code. I can't myself imagine my neighbours wanting to have helped me in my high rise council estate apartment when my husband regularly beat me up way back then - or in our normal, urban townships of today. I find this amazing and would so much like to hear more about the neighbourhood which this lady had the good fortune to be part of. This is a solution which can work if combined with other strategies at the very least, and I would like to promote the idea in whichever way I can!

Yes, I am hunting around for an inclusive strategy, which I would like to put to the Department of Education in Cape Town (S Africa) when, and if, they respond to my suggestion that we take a relook at their existing Classroom Assistant programme and re-design it so as to give support to the girl students and not (as it is now) only to help the teachers. This needs to include a broad base of stakeholders, and a thorough plan. I shall need lots of help and am looking for freebees on the web (free training etc or other resources/support to help me kickstart things).Where does one begin? Do you have any idea of a charity which I might reach out to for support?

I read your profile just now (company and personal). I'm impressed with the work you do. I hope we will stay in touch.

With respect and thanks from Monica in France

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

Insha Allah's picture

powerful writer

Dear Monica,

The issue of children especially girls are constantly abused by their teachers and intimate elders is immersed in almost every culture in our planet. That's very horrific and unacceptable. Thank you very, very much for raising such an important issue for unreported cases. You are a very powerful writer. I feel very touched with the stories you share and remained impressive with your solution-oriented approach at the end.

With Love from Burma (Myanmar)
Insha

Shwe Wutt Hmon

Monica Clarke's picture

Thank you Insha

Thanks you for your encouragement, Insha. I would like to do something to help in South Africa, if I can, and shall be looking for ways to achieve this. If you have any ideas or know of any innovative programmes which have tackled the problem of sexual harrassment or violence in schools, please send them my way!

Love and hugs from Monica in France on a sunny winter Saturday afternoon.

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

Ellie's picture

Thank you for your courage!

Dear Monica,

Thank you for your courage to share your story and bring awareness to such a dire situation in SA. You are so right to point out these two vicious cycles: 1) how the environment in which a learning takes place does not support the lesson itself & 2) the family structure which should teach young girls (and boys) how to tell right from wrong is silenced in light of poverty & the provided money from teachers. I was shocked to read that 33% (!) of rape of girls in SA are committed by school teachers - this is unacceptable and needs more people to advocate against it, but also to bring it to the attention to mainstream media.

Thank you for researching further practices in other countries - you have offered some very good solutions. Would you have an idea how probable it is to implement the Female Classroom Assistants role more actively in the SA educational system, similar to the way it's functioning in Guinea and Sierra Leone? What do you foresee to be the challenges in doing so?

Thank you for your strong voice, personal dedication and powerful ending of your story, through which the determination in your voice transpires! You are so brave to have shared such a close issue to your heart - and your personal story - in such a strong piece.

Warmly,
Ellie

Hi Ellie

Thanks for reading my article and for your encouragement. Yes, it is shocking, isn't it. When I spoke with some teachers in SA even they were amazed, and agree that something has to be done about this appalling state of affairs. I have tried to find statistics which refute the 33% figure of doom, but could not come up with a brighter picture at all.

Yes, Ellie, I am trying to promote the idea of female Classroom Assistants as a solution. I think that a major challenge is the Dept of Education (DoEd) in SA. Obviously they are overwhelmed with priorities - such as reducing post-Apartheid illiteracy, and they are doing a really great job. I'm looking for a champion in the DoEd, someone whom the government will stand up and listen to. Once I have such an ear, I hope to get a team together to set things in motion.

Another challenge for me is that I'm not an educationalist, so I will need to accumulate the appropriate language first. I am a facilator and know that I have the passion to convince a team to spearhead things and get other stakeholders together.

But first, a champion in the DofEd, then a team. I'm looking for help in deciding who should be on the team... then, guidance as to whom the stakeholders should be for a bigger conference. (Money and resources will follow I have no doubt)........Any ideas from you would be most welcome.

The Classroom Assistant model as used in Guinea and Sierra Leone is an application of the Minimum Standards (for education) developed by the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE). I'm in touch with INEE and hope that they will be able to help me to become more knowledgeable about how I could go about things and also to give me a few more tools for use in my own toolbag.

I have lorry-loads of hope and will put my energy into this. It is clearly signposted on my personal path this year!

Thanks for reading and for responding to my article, Ellie. I enjoyed writing this response to you. It has helped me clarify my thinking a bit more.

Bless you.

Love and hugs from Monica in France

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

MaDube's picture

Dear Monica

Indeed the rape figures in South Africa are alarming, more so against children. It goes to the root of the problem, the nature of society characterized by the subordination of women; a deeply corrupt society where all those expected to provide protection are in fact the abusers. Talk of the parents, the neighbours, the teachers in schools, the police and the government itself. So who will be the watchdog of the other when at all levels the rape of women including young girls has been normalised. I hope soon this culture will come to an end; otherwise South Africa is breeding a generation of damaged women and ruthless men who know they can get away with anything because nothing will be done about it. Your target group, teachers, is very valid as the culture can be nipped in its budding stage among the children for the girls to know that it is wrong to be abused and to report such abuse and for the boys to learn that women and girls should be treated with dignity and respect. Thank you for this beautiful post.

Best,

MaDube

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