January 27, 2015

78% of School Girls Are Sexually Abused – Government Study

A study recently commissioned by the Ministry of Education has indicated that about 78% of girls in primary schools in Uganda have been sexually abused within the school environment.

Uganda school girls
Uganda school girls

The study on child protection, safety and security for children in Uganda primary and secondary schools, sampled 50 selected schools countrywide. These included 40 primary schools and 10 secondary schools.

Out of the 3,121 Primary school samples, 2,427 said they experienced a sexual relationship or abuse at school representing 77.7 percent of the sampled population. Of these, 19.4 percent (752) were in Eastern Uganda, 16.8 per cent (652) in Central, 14.9 per cent (578) in Northern Uganda and 11.5 per cent (445) in Western Uganda.

In the 10 secondary schools surveyed a total of 575 students, 82 percent of the total 702 students surveyed, reported to have experienced sexual abuse at school.

Of these, 29.3 per cent (169) were in Eastern, 24.5 percent (141) in Western, 25 per cent (144) Central and 21 per cent (121) Northern Uganda.

Study findings revealed that children commonly understood sexual abuse in school to comprise sexual contact such as sexual touching, kissing, and penetrative sex by both teachers and peers.

The study commissioned in November 2014 was supported by UNICEF, a United Nations agency that provides humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries.

UNICEF’s Chief of Communications, Jaya Murthy says the findings of the report reveal a worrying trend which needs immediate action.

“If 78% of children are sexually abused, that means, chances of early marriage, unwanted teenage [pregnancies and disease are high within this population.

We as UNICEF and our partners including the Ministry of Education are trying to find a way to have these vices against children eliminated,” he says.

The study also indicated that there were more children in private schools who experienced sexual abuse by their male teachers (69.1%) than in government schools (66%). Sexual violence by fellow students was more in government schools (24.5%) than in private schools (16.3%).

Study findings further indicate that sexual abuse by female teachers also existed, although in low percentages compared to sexual abuse by male teachers and non-teaching staff.

Among the response received by the researchers, was one from an 11 year old in Lira District and a 13 year old in Nakasongola District whose names have been withheld to protect their identity.

The pupil stated; “Our school has no clear arrangement for handling child abuse. Our students committees don’t work.

Our senior woman is not respected by the head teacher. She has nowhere to report the abuse we experience yet we also fear to report. The non-teaching staffs also sexually abuse us by using sexual words”.  Said the 11 year old girl in Lira District, Northern Uganda

“Male teachers indecently touch us when we go to their houses during break time. They send us to their houses to pick something for them and then they follow us there.

Our fellow children also do bad touches on us,” Said a 13 year old girl in Nakasongola District, Central region.

Education Minister Jessica Alupo while releasing the primary Leaving Education (PLE) results about two weeks ago observed that lack of a safe school environment in Uganda is one of the key factors contributing to low levels of learning achievement, retention and completion in primary education, especially for girls

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