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School children stand up against rape

Written by Samona Murugan
About 10.2 million learners have spoken out against the high number of rapes in the country, lending their voices to the Stop Rape Campaign.

Photo caption: Learners of Glendale Secondary School in Mitchells Plain were among the first in the country to add their support to the recently launched Stop Rape Campaign.Department of Basic Education and Lead SA, who  have  joined  forces to raise rape awareness among the country’s pupils.

Launched by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, the campaign also has the support of President Jacob Zuma, who visited a school in Mitchells Plain at the start of it.

Noting the on-going abuse of women and children, the President said there was a need to build a more caring society, in which the rights of all were respected, especially that of women and children.

“We have come together to say that these horrendous attacks must stop. No woman or child should be beaten, raped, stabbed, shot or attacked in any manner anywhere in our country, whether by known or unknown attackers,” he added.

As part of the campaign to eliminate rape and sexual violence in schools, special assemblies were held at schools across the country on 1 March.

After singing the national anthem, principals, teachers and activists spoke to learners about rape and sexual crimes, advising them on what to do if they become victims of these crimes.

A Rape Response Booklet and pledge, based on the Bill of Responsibilities, which includes a statement on violence and rape, were also circulated.

Minister Motshekga urged teachers and learners to adopt the pledge at assemblies.

The booklet, which will help guide teachers on how to cope with the sensitive topic of rape and sexual violence, can be downloaded from the department’s website.

The pledge, which is available in all 11 official languages, encourages pupils to:

  • Uphold the Constitution of the country.
  • Abide by the laws of the country.
  • Respect the rights of others irrespective of age, race, sex or sexual orientation.
  • Not commit rape or any form of sexual harassment, abuse or violence.
  • Report any form of wrongdoing to authorities.
  • Honour the responsibilities that come with these rights.
  • Be good citizens.

The department has also called on schools to prepare worksheets for learners about violent and sexual crimes and discuss these issues further in classrooms.

“This initiative is critical not only to highlight rape but also to educate our children,” said the Minister.

She also urged every citizen to adopt the pledge.

“Take it to your offices, factories and homes … say no to rape. We call on civil society to support the Stop Rape initiative,” Minister Motshekga added.

For more information contact the Department on 012 357 3000 or go to www.education.gov.za