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POWA encourages teens to combat gender-based violence

Learners of Jiyane Secondary School gathered in numbers at the school's assembly on September 06 for the awareness on Teenz Alliance in Ending Sexual Violence in Schools.

Learners of Jiyane Secondary School gathered at the school’s assembly on September 6 to make them aware of the Teenz Alliance in Ending Sexual Violence in Schools.

It was led by a Grade 10 learner, Katlego Mokgesi, the purpose of the assembly was to encourage learners to speak out about any sort of abuse happening around them.

Teenz Alliance in Ending Sexual Violence in Schools was formed by People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA) and Agisanang Domestic Abuse Prevention Training (ADAPT).

Members from Powa and Adapt attended the event and also addressed the learners.

The school learners took turns to present dramatic skits, dance to music and recite poems that addressed issues on sexual violence and gender-based violence happening in schools.

Speaking to the learners, Powa’s social worker, Dipuo Thobejane, said schools should work closely with organisations such as Powa in order to ensure all learners understand what behavior is deemed acceptable at the school.

“This will also help to promote a better understanding of the causes and initiatives that will successfully reduce incidents of gender-based violence. Furthermore, this type of awareness provides information on what to do if you have been subject to gender-based violence, how to seek emergency assistance and deciding what to do next,” added Thobejane.

Thobejane added learners should learn to speak out about issues which do not sit well with them – especially issues involving gender-based violence.

Meanwhile project manager of Teenz Alliance in Ending Sexual Violence in Schools, Sidwell Sekgoana, also highlighted issues about sexual violence by defining rape and sexual harassment in schools and communities.

Jiyane Secondary School learners packed the school’s assembly during the awareness of Teenz Alliance in Ending Sexual Violence in Schools.

“Most people in the Tembisa township are still unable to define sexual violence – specifically rape. It is important to report any form of abuse: sexual violence, domestic, rape and other any type of abuse. Reporting a case of rape instantly will help a victim to get medication and prevent Sexual Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and an unwanted pregnancy. It is best to engage with relevant stakeholders who will help by offering counselling to deal with the emotional trauma of the incident,” explains Sekgoana.

Sekgoana said the primary objective of the project was to ensure that all learners feel empowered to access their rights and fulfill their potential.

“We want them to be protected and to be included as active decision-makers within their societies. In order to overcome the issue, we need to talk about it. We want to break the silence and stigma around gender-based violence, with the goal of creating strong, sustainable, cohesive and protective societies in which women and girls can flourish,” added Sekgoana.

A Grade 11 learner, Zama Dlamini, said she found the awareness informative.

“As young people we do face challenges of gender-based violence on the street, at school and at home. One does not know what to do when this type of action or behaviour happens. I am happy that we are living in a century that has got organisations which empower people and offer free education about the challenges we are faced with on a daily basis,” added Dlamini.

Jiyane Secondary School principal, Christina Serumula, said several learners were taking part in training sessions offered by Powa.

“Powa’s support system is really making a positive impact in our school because some learners are finding it difficult to express their challenges. In our school we receive more and more reports of bullying, sexual harassment and others and we are encouraging learners to speak out about this,” added Serumula.

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