ANC not serious about tackling rape in schools - DA

2016-09-06 17:23

Cape Town - The DA has accused the ANC of not taking the issue of rape in schools seriously during a debate in the National Council of Provinces.

DA MP Thandi Mpambo-Sibhukwana raised a motion on Tuesday to debate the spate of sexual violence in schools around the country, following the release of the 2015/16 crime statistics.

She called on the ruling party to do more to rid schools of the problem, and to release rape statistics separately from the broad "sexual offences" category.

"It is clear that the ANC government is not serious about checking sexual offences. The crime stats showed that an average of 142 occur per day.

"This is not a victory on government's part. According to the Institute for Security Studies, many rapes are unreported, almost one in nine.

"I call on the ruling party to employ more social workers and train up policemen."

Mpambo-Sibhukwana said police should be trained to understand sign language so that deaf victims would "no longer be laughed at".

'Guilty teachers must go'

ANC MP Lungelwa Zwane hit back, saying the decline in total sexual offences for the last financial year showed that the government was working to ensure that women were being protected.

She added that teachers who were found guilty of rape should be banned from teaching permanently.

"Teachers who are found to be involved in disgusting acts such as rape don't have a place in the department of education," Zwane said.

"They must be removed immediately as teachers and their certificates must be taken away."

EFF MP Nkangisang Koni said schools were a microcosm of broader society, and guilty parties were not just teachers, but students as well.

IFP MP Khawula Mntomuhle said Ubuntu had been lost in society, and that the country needed to get Ubuntu back to solve the problem.

'Let's not tarnish the profession'

Deputy Minister for Basic Education Enver Surty addressed all MPs at the end of the debate, and said he was happy that all parties were unanimous about the need to end rape in schools.

He was keen though for MPs not to generalise in labelling the problem as lying solely with teachers as one broad group.

"We shouldn't overgeneralise. In general, our educators are known to us and the profession, but there are those who are certainly abusing their position.

"Those are the ones who we need to identify and take action against. Let's not tarnish the profession."

Measures to battle rape

Surty told the council that the department had implemented measures to battle the issue going forward, which included:

- The development of a manual called "Open those eyes", aimed at educators across all schools;
- Developing resources to address homophobic violence in schools;
- A National School Safety Framework to work with police;
- A movement called GEM and BAM, where boys are "taught to be their sisters' keepers".

"Too often our learners don't know how to cope with sexual harassment, so it's important they have knowledge of this.

"We speak to the importance of respect and gender equality and the responsibility of the genders to protect each other.

"Work has been done, but much more must be done," he said.

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