File photo: African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Cape Town - Almost half of schoolgirls in Khayelitsha primary schools have experienced sexual violence in an intimate partnership, according to a study by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC).

The Sexual Violence in Schools in South Africa (SeViSSA) Kwanele study proved violence is “commonplace in schools”.

Pupils in romantic relationships experience high levels of violence at the hands of their partners with higher levels among primary school pupils compared to high schools.

The HSRC with its partners Grassroot Soccer and Soul City Institute did the study with an aim to create safe school environments by dealing with violence against girls and was delivered through peer educators in Khayelitsha.

According to the findings, violence occurs mostly in classrooms, on sports fields or in bathrooms with signs of hair-pulling, kicking, verbal threats and pupils touching another inappropriately.

In primary schools pupils aged 10-14 (20%) were forced to have sex out of fear, compared to the 14% in high schools.

About 23% of primary school pupils did it out of guilt compared to the 17% in high schools. Fourteen percent of the primary school pupils were forced to perform a humiliating or shameful sexual act compared to 10% high school pupils, found the study.

Soul City Institute provincial manager Palesa Mokooane said: “These number are seriously alarming and indicate that we need to make sure we pay attention to primary schools and need to engage with pupils so that they understand what sexual violence means.

“This doesn’t mean we’ll ignore high schools because it is also evident there. The council also teamed up with parents, schools and other organisations.

“It was important that parents be part of this to see that these things are real and so that they can help their children even back at home as there are many stigmas that come with reporting violence.”

Mokooane said the study was done through questionnaires and dialogues. She said there were also a number of factors that contributed in primary school pupils being sexually active and that was one of the reasons why pupils needed to be educated more.

“Another alarming fact was 35% of primary school pupils experienced sexual violence at the hands of their teachers and 20% in high schools.

“This shows younger pupils are at greater risk, both in terms of experiencing violence and seeking support,” said Mokooane.

Cape Times