Suffering to succeed? Violence and abuse in schools in Togo

Suffering to succeed? Violence and abuse in schools in Togo

Violence in schools: evidence from Togo

This booklet brings together the results of a research programme conducted on violence and abuse in schools in Togo. The publication describes the main forms of violence against children in schools: corporal punishment; forced labour; sexual harassment and sexual violence; and attempts to provide some understanding of the social framework within which such violence appears "normal".

The study interviewed children in their last three years of primary school and found that 88 per cent of the girls, and 87 per cent of the boys, reported having experienced physical violence at school. 52 per cent of girls, and 48 per cent of boys, reported threatening behaviour or psychological violence at school, and 4.1 per cent of girls reported having suffered sexual violence at school.

The paper argues that violence against children in schools occurs in a broad social context that tolerates and very often encourages it. Research shows how rarely sexual violence against girls in school finds its way into the courts. Lawyers say parents don’t bring charges; teachers cases rarely go outside the school: ‘professional solidarity’ among teachers ensures pressure is put on the girl to keep quiet, and the matter dies. A patriarchal esprit de corps among teachers is inevitable when only 12 per cent of teachers in primary schools, and 7 per cent of teachers in secondary schools, are women.

Key recommendations from the study include:

  • reduce gender-related discrimination and violence at school
  • promote gender equality in the teachers’ corps
  • include adequate services for school children who have survived sexual violence
  • educate on sexual health rights and needs at school
  • educate in sexual health rights at schools to ensure students and teachers are aware of risks
  • advocate for greater budget allocations of donors and governments for anti-violence work at school and household level
  • work with children as partners in development and increase space for children and youth organisations defending their rights in civil society at global level.
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