Publication Date: 2006
Sadiyya Haffejee, Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR)
Violence against adolescent girls in South Africa takes place against a backdrop of pervasive gender violence in society and stems in part from unequal power relations and strong patriarchal values. This study is based on focus group discussions with adolescent girls in South African schools. It highlights a disturbing prevalence of sexual harassment at school as well as an alarmingly high incidence of physical and sexual violence in the lives of adolescent girls. The findings corroborate other studies that assert that schools are unsafe spaces for girls.
The authors find that:
- violence is normalised within the school environment and in communities,
- inconsistent messages regarding the acceptability and normality of gender-based violence is mimicked in participant's ambiguous responses to the perpetration of violence against them; on one hand they feel that violence is not acceptable and on the other hand they try and justify the violence by accepting responsibility, and
- there is no clear sense that violence is intolerable and that it should not be a normal part of a relationship.
The report finds that current measures to address this situation are inadequate, and the authors strongly recommend urgent intervention by schools, as well as communities and government, for youth on gender-based violence and related issues such as sexuality, rights and empowerment.