School Related Gender Based Violence has become a topical issue in Zimbabwe as young people no longer have peace in their institutions of learning, child president Tinaye Mbavari has said
Speaking on the side lines of the launch of the School related gender based violence programme in which 12 countries from the continent took part, the child president highlighted some of the issues that are affecting students especially sexual abuse on male and female students.
“Students no longer have a conducive environment which they desire in order to achieve academic excellence. There have been a number of reports especially in High Schools, where female students are being asked for sexual relationships by their male teachers in order to get good grades.
This has been going on for a long time and it has to come to an end through teamwork with relevant stake holders, parents included
“Students must be educated on their rights and be enlightened on how they can report cases of abuse as soon as possible. Education in a way makes one confident and chases away fear, this will in return minimise cases of sexual relationships and abuse among high school students either male or female
“It must be engraved in the minds of students that hard work is the only high way to success. Sexual relationships with teachers will end up with many female students in particular falling pregnant resulting in a number of unwanted teenage pregnancies. During the process others can also contract STI’s or HIV and AIDS,” she said
She expressed concern over forms of SGBV such as bullying, labelling and corporal punishment.
“We have cases of students being bullied for a dollar by their peers in order to buy something from a school tuck shop. In the same vein we have male teachers brutally beating school children’s behinds as a sort of punishment. Boys in high schools, especially boarding schools are instructed to dig a hole equal to their height and after completion they are told to fill it up again as a form of corporal punishment.
Through such acts students lose their self-esteem and become fearful of their seniors as they are victimised psychologically and at the end they fail to concentrate on the core business of schooling.
“Most teachers use the opportunity of beating children as a way of venting their anger on certain matters that might have robbed their joy in life.
“This results in them inflicting pain on students up to a point of injuring them in the name of punishment and it is not acceptable.
“Such brutality and behaviour make life difficult for most students. There must be a way of redirecting the attitudes and efforts of young people towards a good cause without inflicting pain on them. This can be in form of counselling or other non-brutal correctional measures.
She went on to call all stakeholders to join hands speak with one voice against school gender based violence especially for students who learn in rural areas who have to walk long distances to school and encounter a number of challenges on their way.
“As a child president and a representative of those in school, l call for unity to end gender based violence especially in rural areas who walk long distances to school and at times encounter men who rape them on their way. It’s not only the girl child who is being raped these days but even the boy child is being raped by a female teachers and at times forced into homosexuality by the community ”
“Faced with this background this is the time we have to unite, this is the time we have to stand as Zimbabweans and say no to gender based violence.
“I encourage people to report these cases and make them known. This is a call to action Zimbabwe join the conversation in ending sexual related gender based violence” said the child president
School related gender based violence are acts or threats of sexual, physical or psychological violence occurring in and around schools, perpetrated as a result of gender norms and stereotypes and unequal power dynamics.