As a 24-year-old woman, working in the city, my dad often warns me to not leave work too late and never walk to my car alone.
He says that I should message when I leave and always let him know when I’m home.
And while I sometimes feel as though this can be quite restrictive, I also know that it’s necessary considering that in 2016 over 30 000 sexual assault cases were reported in South Africa (that’s 110 a day and 4.58 every hour).
While this is happening, preventative measures have largely come in the form of urging women to “avoid dressing like sluts” or, in the case of a Breton High School in Canada, posting notes in the hallways which read:
“When you wear little to no clothing and dress provocatively because it’s “too hot out” or because you think it’s “attractive,” you are putting boys at risk of having a distracting working environment and saying, “your clothing is more important than their education.”
Policing the way young women dress from as early as high school and even primary school, however, suggests that what a woman wears is more important than her education, and the way she dresses is more important than simply teaching her fellow students about consent.
With her approach, students aren’t taught about sex but rather about reading emotions, asking before touching and saying no when they don’t want to be touched.
They learn that their bodies belong to themselves and that they are always allowed to say no, even if they simply do not feel like giving their teddy a hug.
“When we teach consent education in kindergarten or the lower years of primary school, we ask all the children to adopt their fiercest pose. With hands on hips, their spines stiff and tops of their heads reaching to the ceiling, they thrust out a hand and yell, ‘STOP! Don’t touch me! I don’t like it!” explains Carson.
By developing a culture in which children grow up being able to understand the meaning of a simple and definitive “no”, they will also grow up knowing when their advances are or aren’t welcome.
This seems like a far better alternative to the current chilling reality of having to strategically plan my walks to the car and being blamed for my own victimisation.
So let’s teach our kids about consent. Because no means no, in both a mini skirt and a maxi dress.
- Teach NO SECRETS to ensure your child’s safety
- Why do we still make girls wear skirts and dresses as school uniform?
- These are the 4 hairstyles students claim are banned at Pretoria High School for Girls
How do you feel about teaching your children about consent at such a young age? Tell us by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org and we may publish your comments.
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