Programme Director: HoD, Themba Kojana
Ladies and Gentlemen
Good morning to you all.
I am happy to be here in the Eastern Cape. Today, I am coming here to talk about school related gender-based violence. This means acts or threats of sexual, physical or psychological violence happening in and around schools.
We call it gender-based because this type of violence is due to gender norms and stereotypes, enforced by unequal power dynamics in society.
Some other forms of this violence may include verbal abuse, bullying, sexual abuse, harassment and other types of violence.
In recent weeks we have seen an increase in violence targeted at women and girl children. This province buried one of its own recently, Uyinene Mrwetyana. She was raped and killed allegedly by a post office worker. There are many other cases that have not been reported in the media.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has called this violence against women and girl children a national crisis.
I am here to say to all of you, as Government, teachers and parents, we are here for you. You have a right to report any type of violence immediately to the authorities such as your teachers, parents, school governing body and police.
Please do not suffer in silence. Your silence makes the abuse worse. It may impact on your health, school marks and general well-being. Some learners have quit school as a result of bullying, sexual abuse and other types of violence. There is sufficient evidence, which seems to suggest that safe and secure dialogues, led by trusted members of society, speaking against violence, can help curb social ills, such as school related gender based violence.
I urge you to have mutual respect for each other. Don’t allow your friend and strangers to interfere with your right to pursue happiness. You have every right to report a friend who bullies others.
I don’t want you my angels to think that violence only involves guns, knives and big people. Today, you must know that name-calling, constant teasing, bullying including cyberbullying, hitting, hair pulling, harassing and gossip amongst others all constitutes examples of school related gender-based violence.
If you’re not sure what is happening to you, please check whether someone’s actions make you feel hurt, worthless, scared, ashamed and stressed. If anybody – teachers and parents included, please don’t suffer in silence. Tell someone today. As a Department we have social workers that are always ready to listen and help you to get justice.
Today, I want to know what a good friend is. Is your friend trustworthy?
Does he or she cheer you up? Does he or she help you with your schoolwork? Does he or she share with you? Is there laughter in your friendship? A person is worthy of being called a friend if they make you feel good about yourself. That only happens if they (friends) treat you with respect. They must respect your words. If you say NO, they must stop. They must respect your body. It’s your body and only you can decide what to do with it and when.
Today, I want you learn to spot signs of a bad friend, who may harm you. A good friend will never demand favours, including sex, food, etc. Is your so-called friend spreading nasty rumours about you, my girl, leave him. He is not worth it. Anybody who encourages you to use drugs, drink alcohol, smoke, is definitely not your friend. Cut all ties and move on. Anyone, who laughs at you, leaves you out of a game, is not a friend. If you feel uncomfortable in his presence and he makes you scared, run my girl.
Let me talk to the perpetrators, the bullies. If you are a child here, who bullies and hurts others, it’s never too late to seek help. The school is willing to help bullies to reform. Please my child, find someone to help you to change your bullying / violent ways. Speak to a teacher, social worker and school governing body for advice. You can’t go on hurting other children. It is just not right.
If you are a target of bullying and violence, find someone who can help you stand up for yourself and, most importantly, report the perpetrator and accomplices of the violence. Schools must offer a safe and violence free environment. Report the bullies. Don’t be friends with bullies. #BulliesMustFall.
If you see someone bullying or hurting others, and you do nothing, you’re an accomplice. Don’t be a bystander. In a battle against school related gender-based violence, we don’t want bystanders. Take a stand. Don’t blend in stand out.
If you see someone bully or hurt others, support the target (victim) and call-out the bully. If you are afraid of the bully, report him / her to a trusted adult such as teacher, or someone you can trust. Bullying, and violence against women and girl children, ends with you. Today! Now!
The scourge of gender-based violence is an affront to our common humanity. We, as women, and by extension the whole country, are facing a tragedy of the Shakespearean proportions.
It is time for men to take a stand. Don't Blend in Stand Out!
President Cyril Ramaphosa has described this phenomenon of wanton rape and killing of women and girl children as, ‘a national emergency’.
Today, I am making a clarion call to all men to desist from harming, raping and killing women and girl children.
Rape and murder of women and girl children will end when men stop doing it. Period.
I thank you.