Stop normalizing bullying in schools, hold perpetrators accountable
The Women’s Aid Organization (WAO) urges the Department of Education and the Department of Women, Family and Community Development to take swift action to reduce bullying in schools and end a culture of institutionalized rape.
They must ensure that schools remain safe spaces for all students, and reports of harassment or sexual violence of any kind must be addressed.
The request for evidence from the Ministry of Education despite the many testimonies of girls on the periodic checks carried out by teachers, the response to police reports made by a 17-year-old student against her teacher who “joked” about the rape and his classmate who The rape threats sent are proof of how the system systematically protects the perpetrators. It is sad that there is a clear institutional disregard for the safety of children and a disempowering practice of disbelieving survivors.
Authorities officially referring to rape threats as a joke is symptomatic of a normalized rape culture. These threats are also a form of sexual harassment, which is the product of the rape culture. This acceptance at the highest level perpetuates the practices of violence against women and decreases the effectiveness of reporting mechanisms.
In light of this, we urgently call on relevant ministries and authorities to end the normalization of the culture of rape and harassment in schools and to tackle the practice of disbelieving survivors. In addition, safe reporting practices for survivors of violence or harassment who come forward should be established, and investigations should be conducted in a transparent and survivor-centered manner.
We need to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions, rather than exonerating them of responsibility and blaming the survivors.
Teachers, as authority figures and role models in the school, take on ethical responsibilities to protect students and ensure responsible communication. Teacher training programs need to take sexual harassment guidelines seriously and address the gaps to make school a safer place for our children.
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