Amnesty on girls and schooling
Louise Livesey // 7 March 2008
A global review by Amnesty International of girls experience of schooling has found that
- The World Health Organisation found the most common place where sexual harassment and coercion are experienced is in school
- 50% of schoolgirls in Malawi said they had been touched in a sexual manner ‘without permission, by either their teachers or fellow schoolboys’.
- In Afghanistan burning down girls’ schools has become increasingly common. At least 172 violent attacks on schools took place in the first six months of 2006
- 83% of girls in public schools in the US aged from 12 to 16 have experienced some form of sexual harassment
- 14,000 schoolgirls in Tanzania were expelled from school between 2003 and 2006 because they were pregnant
- 50% of Zimbabwean junior secondary girls reported unsolicited contact on the way to school by strangers
- In Latin America, sexual harassment in schools has been found to be widespread in the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama
- A seven-year survey of 3,000 children in the UK found more than half had experienced bullying or assault
The report also points out that lesbians, girls with disabilities or those from ethnic minorities are particularly vulnerable. Amnesty has created a six point action plan for governments to improve the situation asking that they:
- Enact and enforce laws and procedures that will prohibit all forms of violence against girls, including corporal punishment, verbal abuse, physical violence, emotional abuse and sexual violence and exploitation.
- Create national plans of action in addressing school-related violence by compulsory training of teachers and students; ensuring that schools have sex-segregated toilets and washrooms, dormitories are secured and playgrounds are supervised.
- Adopt confidential and independent mechanisms for reporting incidents of violence against girls, investigating and criminally prosecuting the perpetrators.
- Provide support services for girls who have suffered violence such as counseling, medical treatment, HIV/AIDs information and medication.
- Eliminate all fees — direct and indirect — for primary schools in order to make secondary schools accessible to all.
- Develop and enforce codes of conduct for all school staff and students.