Busi Mkhumbuzi,
Soweto, South Africa
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October 4, 2011

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and this week the ACLU in conjunction with some of our youth clients and V-Girls, a global network of youth activists and advocates empowering themselves and one another to create the change they imagine for the world, is presenting a blog series. “Your School Your Rights — Ending Sexual Violence” is designed to highlight the many voices impacted by sexual violence and harassment in schools and the tools students, teachers and parents can use to fight back. The girls, expressing themselves in both poetry and prose, underscore the fact that kids have a RIGHT to be protected against gender-based violence in schools.

In many countries and cultures, girls are not always granted equal access to their rights. In fact, despite the universal call for nations to recognize the rights of women, millions of girls today are denied their human rights.

In a number of schools around the world, girls are not protected against gender-based violence and/or harassment and have a limited number of options available to them in the event of a violent encounter.

Gender based violence and/or harassment can be when someone:

  • Follows you around, always wants to know where you are and who you are with, or stalks you
  • Pressures you to perform sexual acts
  • Touches you sexually against your will
  • Forces you to have sex
  • Interferes with your birth control
  • Verbally abuses you using anti-gay or sex-based insults, sends you repeated and unwanted texts, IMs, online messages, and/or phone calls that harass you
  • Hits, punches, kicks, slaps, or chokes you
  • Verbally or physically threatens you

The ACLU and V-Girls aim to protect and promote the rights of girls by educating them about speaking up for themselves and being more assertive. Together, the ACLU and V-Girls seek to ensure basic education for all adolescent girls and their protection from abuse and exploitation at every level of human rights. We are firmly committed to the belief that knowledge, above all, is the key to empowering girls, enabling them to become active citizens and strong leaders and to lead productive lives with more choices. Girls have the right to be themselves and to resist gender-based stereotypes; they also have the right to have confidence in themselves and to be safe in the world.

Until the violence stops, it is everyone’s duties to help every girl in the world understand their right to feeling safe in the school building.

“I am strong because I can lift my own weight. I am smart not just because I get A’s. I am bold because I am not afraid to stick up for my rights.” — A’lece, Age 10, South Africa

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