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Media Release

Friday, 8 March, 2002

WCED expands self-defence campaign for schoolgirls

Extract from remarks by Minister André Gaum speaking at Glendale High School in Mitchell’s Plain on International Women’s Day, 8 March 2002

Apart from the physical trauma of a rape or an assault, one of the worst consequences for South African women of such crimes is the reinforcement of the perception that women, and girls specifically, are weak victims who make easy targets for abuse.

The Western Cape Education Department is taking the initiative to equip future generations of South African women with the self-defence skills to hit back at their attackers.

Not only does the Crime Buster Campaign reduce the chance that these students will be attacked, but it also begins to address the belief that women and girls are powerless to defend themselves.

It is particularly appropriate that these workshops should be run through the school system in South Africa because schools have increasingly become places of danger and fear – especially for female students.

From 1996 to 2000, the reported incidents of child rape increased by 8,5%1. 60% of girls raped are assaulted by men known to them, with teachers being blamed for a third of all such rapes2.

It has been estimated that at least five in every ten male teachers at secondary schools have had sexual relations with schoolgirls3. Programmes like the Crime Buster Campaign are essential for making schools places of safety, and for restoring the belief in education as a tool for creating a better life.

In a report released last year4, it was found that more than 50% of schoolgirls said women are partly responsible for sexual violence.

One out of ten believed women found sexually violent men more attractive, and up to 12% thought that they had no right to avoid sexual abuse.

More than half of the 27 000 youths interviewed said that forced sex with someone you know is not sexual violence.

Perhaps the single most valuable aspect of self-defence classes for our children is the chance to restore self-worth and self-confidence to girls who would otherwise consider abuse to be a normal part of growing up in South Africa.

Teaching our children that they have rights, and giving them the skills to enforce those rights is a gift beyond price.

The power of the Crime Buster Campaign is that it teaches children alternatives to violence – emphasising that a violent response is only a last resort. But should a situation arise in which they are unable to avoid being attacked, this programme empowers them with the ability to defend themselves.

The programme is currently being run at 340 schools in the Western Cape, and will be expanded by an additional 50 schools every year.

The Western Cape Education Department will increase funding for the Safe School’s Project from R12million last year to R13million in 2002.

In addition to the self-defence workshops, the Western Cape Education Department’s Safe Schools Call Centre and peer education programmes have been singled out by the national Government as examples of best practice – to be rolled out in other provinces.

The WCED is fully committed to ensuring the safety of our learners. Our Safe Schools programme has implemented a wide range of projects to achieve this, from installing security systems to mobilising communities to look after their schools.

One of the lessons we have learnt is that we can't depend on fences and burglar bars alone to defend our young people. These are important, but ultimately, safe environments depend on people.

The best defence against crime and violence is to enable people to defend themselves, and the commitment of communities to looking after what is valuable to them.

For these reasons, I give this self-defence programme my full support. In addition to teaching important self-defence skills, the campaign will help to give girls and young women the self-confidence and self-esteem they need to fulfil their potential.

We need confident young people to build our communities and our society. This campaign will assist us in this task. If we can build healthy, successful communities, we have the best defence against crime, violence and abuse.

We also must express our appreciation for the women of all ages who are already building our communities in many ways, especially as today is International Women's Day. These women provide wonderful role models for girls and young women in our schools today.

I am confident that this self-defence programme will help to develop the skills and self-confidence needed by girls and young women as they follow this lead.

I wish our Safe Schools Programme and the Crime Buster Campaign every success in this project.

Enquiries: André Gaum 082-772-6608

1  Minister of Safety and Security
2  SA Medical Research Council in British Medical Journal, January 2002
3  The Citizen, 26/02/2002
4  CIETafrica

Issued by:
The Communications Directorate
Western Cape Education Department
Private Bag X9114
Cape Town 8000
Tel: (021) 467-2531
Fax: (021) 467-2363
Email: pattwell@pawc.wcape.gov.za
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