School girls'experience of gender based violence: a study of selected secondary schools in Kaoma and Luampa districts of Western Zambia
Lubanze, Nkoopo Isaac
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This study explored school girls’ experiences of gender based violence in selected secondary schools in Luampa and Kaoma districts of western Zambia. A qualitative phenomenological research design was employed in this study. Participants included twenty-eight (28) school girls who had been victims of gender-based violence, four (4) School Administrators, two (2) DEB Officials, and four (4) members of the community, all of whom were purposefully sampled. Data was gathered by semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions. The study established the causes and consequences of gender based violence against school girls and factors that compel abused girls to remain silent, as well as the perpetrators of the violence. The causes were centered on socialization and rigid treatment that girls face in Society School girls who experienced gender based violence did not report their experiences, for fear of being stigmatized, blamed, retaliated against, and not responded to by school administrators. Those who reported their experiences did not receive appropriate help. Male teachers engaged in sexual relationships with school girls and promised the girls money for food, school fees, and other necessities. Some male teachers reacted, beat and punished the girls who refused their advances. School girls also faced gender based violence from their male classmates who proposed sex to them, touched their breasts or buttocks, or made sexual comments. Some boys threatened girls who did not submit to their sexual advances and used physical violence by beating them. School girls experienced gender based violence by men they encountered as they walked long distances to and from school. Which negatively affected their education and health. Sexual abuse exposed girls to sexually transmitted diseases, early pregnancy, injury or death from unsafe abortions, depression and anxiety. They also lost concentration on their academic work, transferred to other schools to escape the abuse and dropped out of school because of pregnancy. Lack of policies for responding to reports of gender based violence and blaming girls made it difficult for girls to report their experiences. Male teachers who sexually abused school girls never received stiffer punishment but just transferred to other schools. The study however, acknowledges the efforts put in place by the Zambian Government through the Ministry of General Education to address violence against school girls. The Ministry has partnered with some NGOs in empowering schoolgirls with knowledge to protect themselves against violence. Zambian Parliament enacted in 2011 the Anti-Gender-Based Violence Act and the Education Act, which provide protection and support for girls who experience school-based abuse. The study concluded that different forms of gender based violence against school girls are common in most Zambian schools. School girls suffer sexual abuse such as rape, defilement and sexual comments and touching by teachers, male classmates, and the men they encounter while walking to and from school. They also face physical and psychological violence such as ridicule and beating from their male classmates, teachers and members of the community. Finally, the study recommended that there was need to sensitize male teachers’ men and boys to take an active part in the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against girls and women.
- Education