Children born when the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were introduced have been speaking out about the high levels of gender-based violence in schools.
According to a press release, the so-called ‘Millennium Children’, all of whom were born in 2000 and are age 15, describe incidents of rape by teachers, sex for grades, violence and harassment at school or on their way to school.
Child rights organisation Plan International has been working with the children to highlight the issue of gender-based violence in schools.
“School-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) is a global phenomenon affecting millions of children and young people around the world,” said Nigel Chapman, CEO of Plan International.
“It harms their education and undermines the prospect of achieving gender equality in schools.”
The organization wants the issue to be highlighted in the Sustainable Development Goals, set to replace the MDGs this year.
“We need more security, and people need to be mindful towards students and make sure they know the purpose of going to school,” said Salimata, 15, from Senegal.
Salimata was 13 when she was raped three times by her teacher while attending evening classes.
“People need to understand that they’re going to school in order to learn. Parents should also pay more attention to their children.”
Other girls in Sierra Leone say they experience harassment as they walk to and from school.
“Some words men say to you are my honey, darling, my baby, my sweetie, my heart to heart,” said Diara*, 15.
“When coming to school, you’ll see boys hanging around the streets calling you all sorts of names.
“[At school] some teachers will advise you on your education. Others won’t advise you on that. They’ll always try to have sex with you, or maybe they’ll ask you to have sex with them for grades.”
Plan International will be advocating for gender based violence in schools to be made a priority in the global development agenda at the World Education Forum in Korea next week.
Chapman said: “At the World Education Forum in Korea next week, the international community will have the opportunity to set out concrete steps to address gender-based violence in and around schools, and ensure that every child can learn without fear.”-Edited by Jonathan Brown