Violence against the vulnerable especially women and girls be it physical, sexual or psychological is defined by the UN declaration of 1993 as being gender-based. Such violence has been diagnosed to be rooted in gender inequality factors. Though recognised as a world-wide human right abuse, it has been diagnosed to be predominant in medium and low income countries with 46% of affected women found to be in Africa (in a study carried out across 80 countries by the UN).

In a study funded by the embassy of Finland and carried out by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, published under the title Gender –Based violence (GBV) in South Africa: A Brief Review, some alarming statistics confirms that GBV in South Africa remains one of the highest in the world. For example, 77% of women in Limpopo, 51% in Gauteng, 45% in western cape, 36 % in Kwazulu-Natal acknowledged to have experienced some form of violence in their life perpetuated by men (mostly intimate relations account for 51%) with sexual-related violence recording higher prevalence: 64,419 cases reported by SAPS in 2012; 62,226 cases in 2013; 66,197 cases in 2014, and 53,617 cases in 2015.

These figures are far less than real as many women are culturally afraid to report such abuses because of future reprisals or because of ignorance of their rights. Mathew et al., (2004) confirmed through another study that 8.8 per 100 000 females were killed by their partners and this remains the highest rate worldwide. Rural women and girls are especially exposed to GBV as indicated by 80% in the Southern Cape rural women report for having experienced domestic violence. Nationwide the rate remains high at 24.6 percent of domestic violence (SAPS reported cases only).

Sekwele endeavours to contribute, with others to the development of a strong, rights-based and compassionate civil society. It does this by nurturing and cultivating a tradition of social reflection and action in communities and by cooperating with those already active in the social sphere to support their efforts in social transformation.

As violence especially gender motivated violence remain high in our society, Sekwele saw it fit to embark on pursuing activities that would go a long way to stamp out GBV in our society and create a new culture of respect and responsible citizenship by conscientising young people and communities about gender based violence and its effects, build youth activism and provide youth with information in order to reduce risky behaviour which makes them vulnerable to GBV.

Sekwele targeted learners from grade 10 and 11 from the following Schools: Bodikela Junior; Khanyeng Intermediate; Ntsu Secondary; Tiisetsang High; Thabo-Thokoza Secondary; Bethlehem Comprehensive; Clocolan High; Harrismith Secondary; Lerato-Thando Secondary; Ladybrand High; M.J.Mohlahli Secondary; Meqheleng Secondary; Lereng Secondary; Reahola Secondary; Kgola Thuto; Phukalla Secondary; Sehlabeng Secondary; Ipokelleng Secondary; Kgetha-Tsebo Secondary; Akofang Intermediate; Qwa-Qwa Combine; Breda School.

Realising that the root causes of GBV are linked to lack of knowledge of women’s rights and general human rights, low literacy rate and low awareness of where to get help as well as lack of adequate structures to manage sensitive complaints while respecting and protecting the victims. Other phenomenon such as drunkenness, patriarchy gender inequality implicitly supported by some societal structures and laws equally contribute to the GBV. Certain cultural norms and beliefs that promote masculinity and traditional practices that subjugate women, eg Ukuthwala, or false belief in male manhood test or unfounded rumours of HIV cure by having sex with a virgin, etc. are ingredients to justify GBV in some communities.

Sekwele is working together with SAPS, Thuthuzela Care Centre, Child & Family Welfare, DDI, Atlehang Youth Development to deliver programs to approximately 500 learners to improve on their understanding of the concepts of gender based violence, its causes, impact, and outlined principles for mentorship which would enable them to acquire the necessary skills for addressing gender based violence in schools as Human Rights Ambassadors.

At the school level, learners organised activities such as research on GBV within their school environments, carry out awareness campaigns and dialogues on their own and some of the schools integrated the GBV prevention model into their existing school’s programmes. This initiative from these schools help ensured the sustainability of the project and facilitated learners’ outreach. This has greatly contributed to the reduction GBV incidences in schools as acknowledged by the school authorities.


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Bodikela Learners sharing their GBV School project with others

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Reahola Secondary Learners engaged in GBV campaign


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