Gender Gender

Schoolgirls sexual abuse shameful

SEXUAL abuse in some institutions is still happening and oftentimes, the victims do not know how to expose this terrible vice that robs them of their dignity. As a cry of help, recently, some recruits at Lilayi Police Training College and some pupils from Kasama Girls Secondary School resorted to social media as a way of exposing this abuse on young and helpless girls.
According to a letter that was posted on social media, a pupil, who identified herself as ‘Grade 12’, claimed that girls at the school were sexually abused by watchmen and some male teachers. She further alleged that about 22 girls fell pregnant from the abuse and that she was one of them.
She said she was abused by a watchman after missing curfew hour while out of bounds. She said for fear of being reported to the school authorities, she gave in to the demand by the watchman to have sex with him without protection, leading to her getting pregnant.
These postings on social media have become talking points on different fora.
Listening to different views, what struck my attention is where some people believe that victims have the power to trap perpetrators as a way of bringing them to account for their actions.
In my view, the victims as in the case of Kasama Girls Secondary School and police recruits are vulnerable who were at the mercy of those in authority; they were not in control and it is this vulnerability that perpetrators use to their advantage.
The Ministry of Education should be commended for promptly instituting investigations to get to the bottom of this behaviour that is degrading to the womenfolk.
In any institution, those in authority who have been entrusted with the responsibility of taking care of their subordinates should not abuse it to take advantage of those who are vulnerable. It is very sad that some people choose to abuse their positions to satisfy their sexual desires and, in the process, expose their victims to sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.
As Non-Governmental Organisations Coordinating Council (NGOCC) chairperson Sara Longwe rightly put it, sexual abuse could be taking place in many other institutions but victims are reluctant to appeal for help because of the people involved. In cases where a victim is brave enough to speak out, she ends up being vilified and called all sorts of names. In some cases, a victim who dares to speak out ends up being treated with disdain. It is time that we all stood out together to speak against this form of abuse the way society has been sensitised against gender-based violence.
It is important for everyone to join in this fight to protect victims of sexual abuse in whatever form, and as Ms Longwe said, there is an urgent need to put in place mechanisms that will ensure and guarantee that women enjoy their rights regardless of their position in society. It is time to name and shame those in authority who prey and sexually abuse vulnerable girls and women under their care.
Last week, Northern Province Minister Brian Mundubile disclosed that three teachers, a cook and a guard at Kasama Girls Secondary had been suspended following investigations. Mr Mundubile said the male teachers, none of whom were named, were suspended following preliminary results of a questionnaire distributed to 400 pupils early this week.
Data was collected from a questionnaire that pointed to some teachers, a guard and a cook as having inappropriate associations with some pupils. Following the results from the questionnaires, the school authorities decided to suspend the male members of staff to allow for further investigations and to ensure that the pupils felt safe.
Remember, children are our future, until next week, take care.
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