Shock stats on teacher, student sexual abuse

Shock stats on teacher, student sexual abuse

LERIBE – A PROSECUTOR has released alarming statistics on the sexual abuse of students by teachers. More than 100 cases have been reported since 2011, said district prosecutor Taeli Sello. But that is not the only problem. The majority of cases are withdrawn, meaning abusers are walking scot free without facing any prosecution.

Sello told participants at a special workshop held for male teachers in the district last week that at least 102 cases have been reported since 2011, a situation that has got education authorities worried. The workshop was organised by Sesotho Media and Development and the Ministry of Education in Leribe district. The Ministry of Education organised the special workshop to sensitise male teachers on their responsibilities in hopes of eradicating the worrying trend.

According to Sello, most of the cases are withdrawn only a few days after being reported.
Molestation of students by teachers is a national problem “but Leribe is worrying”, said Sello.
The Ministry of Education said students in Leribe district are the worst affected.

A 2012 study quoted by AIDSTAR, a research body, which is sponsored by USAID and the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), shows that there are no exact national statistics to a practice that has become a matter of national concern.
PEPFAR is a United States governmental initiative to address the global HIV/AIDS epidemic and funds programmes in many developing countries such as Lesotho.

The study by AIDSTAR highlighted examples of incidents of violence, including female students gang-raped by groups of boys.
The study also noted that some female students agreed to satisfy teachers’ sexual demands out of fear that they would be physically punished if they rejected the teachers’ advances.

The Ministry of Education District Manager, Sekhotseng Adams-Molapo, said such cases are rarely reported to her office.
Adams-Molapo said she has received four cases of girls’ sexual abuse by teachers this year alone.
Leribe has 206 primary schools and 70 secondary and high schools.

She said the workshop, attended by at least 100 teachers, was a first step to get male teachers to talk about the challenges they face with female students.

“This will make us understand more on the measures that need to be taken in eradicating school-related gender based violence,” Adams-Molapo said.
She said school-related gender-based violence “is one of the reasons that there is high dropout and absenteeism”.
“We need to curb this trend. To do this successfully, we need to understand why learners drop out,” Adams-Molapo said.
Adams-Molapo said the Ministry of Education has drawn up a document to train boards and school management on how to end school related gender-based violence.

“When men understand their roles in school, life in school will be bearable,” Adams-Molapo said.
“It does not mean you are the only perpetrators of abuse but women have international organisations, associations protecting and answering to their needs but not men,” she said.

Rose Moremoholo

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