“This begs the question – how many of the 23,000 girls were abused or raped?” they pose, and add that the majority of the recorded cases “would be statutory rape according to South African law.”
In order to address the situation, CIE officials say they have “alerted school leaders and Child Safeguarding Persons to the possibility of increased abuse.”
“However, there are inadequate numbers of social workers and social support,” they say and add, “What is not addressed is, how are we as families and communities, forming boys and young men in attitudes and behavior.”
They continue, “Do girls have the correct information, not only to understand their own sexuality but also where to seek help when abused?”
Despite the challenges, officials of the Catholic entity in South Africa say they are “currently developing a sexuality program for Catholic schools and will continue to implement the Catholic Board of Educations’ Child safeguarding Policy in order to keep God’s children safe.”
Last year, at the height of increased cases of femicide and Gender-Based violence in the country, Catholic Bishops called for a change of approach in tackling these issues and proposed “an “aggressive and holistic approach.”
“We are calling for a process of rethinking the approach to gender-based violence and femicide, drawing parallels from the response to the COVID-19 pandemic that witnessed the involvement of government departments, business sector, civil society and ordinary citizens in their efforts to flatten the infection curve,” members of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) said in June 2020.
They explained that the need for the “aggressive and holistic approach is guided by the fact that the government identified gender-based violence as one of the most defining public health, social and human rights issues that confront and affect the country today.”
Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.
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