Sexual abuse of schoolgirls in Malawi fuels AIDS epidemic-study

Gender Based Violence (GBV) in form of sexual harassment by some male teachers is one of the biggest challenges facing the girl child in schools in Malawi.

According to a study conducted by the Development Aid from People to People (DAPP) through Civil Liberties Committee (CILIC), the problem of sexual harassment against girls in schools in the country is rampant.

A report carried by Africa Newssays DAPP conducted a first life skills training in 31 primary schools in Chiradzulu with an aim of encouraging young people to adopt social behaviour that would enhance self esteem and enable them face life challenges positively.

Facing abuse: Schoolgirls

“It was also in this context that issues of male teacher seduction and sexual harassment of a girl child were reported by pupils themselves in community clubs,” says the report.

In its article headlined ‘Malawi: Male teachers turning into girl predators Africa’, it reported of a girl child named Titha whose dream of becoming a nurse after completing her education was shuttered by her male teacher who raped.

Three months later, it was discovered that the young girl was pregnant and infected with syphilis. She was even diagnosed HIV positive and the girl got expelled from school.

“The study revealed that the cause of this unwelcome behaviour of male teachers with female pupils is more complex and requires in depth studies and effective community and law of intervention,” CILIC Executive Director Emmie Chanika is quoted as saying that sexual harassment against the girl child is a violation of human rights and one’s dignity.

“This unbecoming behaviour by teachers is a cause of school drop outs, pregnancies among girls and possibly encourages the spread of HIV and AIDS,” she explained.

Chanika further said the practice was denying a girl child’s right to education and crippling government’s efforts to promote a girl child’s education to enable her become a productive citizen in society.

Other women activists who spoke to Nyasa Times  asked governmet to discipline teachers who take advantage of their positions and sexually abuse school girls if the country is to effectively promote girl education.

Malawi government’s own statistics, 10.5 percent of girls drop out of school annually as compared to 8.4 percent of boys. The figures also indicate that around 22 per 100 of primary school age girls do not attend school at all while 60 per 100 of those enrolled do not attend regularly.

Reports of the sexual abuse of schoolgirls are widespread all over the country.

Sexual violence and abuse of young girls is one of the main reasons for the unproportionally high occurrence of HIV/AIDS in the female half of the population, studies have shown.

 

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