Fear of rape force girls to bunk school

Girl pupils in farming communities bunk school not out of choice but out of fear of being robbed, assaulted and raped on their way to and from school, a survey has revealed.

They live far from their schools and have to walk long distances either because they do not qualify for the government’s schools transport scheme or the service in their area is unreliable.

Of the 320 pupils in the Stellenbosch, Wellington, Grabouw and Wolseley farming areas who took part in the study, 48 percent have been robbed on their way to school and 37 percent have been exposed to sexual assault.

These statistics were revealed last week in a Women on Farms Project (WFP) study.

The WFP said its survey revealed many rural youngsters spent over an hour walking to school in the mornings and another hour walking back home in often harsh weather conditions.

Karen Roos, WFP’s women’s health and empowerment programme co-ordinator, said “girls have been raped and some girls encounter men exposing their genitals or asking them for sex”.

The study also revealed transport schemes plagued with problems, including overloaded buses, buses in a poor state of repair and an unreliable bus service which often results in pupils reaching school after classes have started.

Source: Weekend Argus