In many South African schools, educators have sexually harassed and abused the learners in their care. This serious human rights violation is widespread and well known. However, its actual incidence is difficult to determine as many cases of educator-learner abuse are never reported. Such harassment and abuse – which occurs with frequency not only in South Africa but also worldwide – has devastating consequences for the health and education of the learners, mainly girls, who experience it. Over the past decade, South Africa has adopted important laws and policies to address this grave human rights problem, yet sexual violence persists in South African schools with disquieting regularity.
This report examines the gaps in accountability that exist for educator abuse of learners in Gauteng Province, South Africa. Drawing upon desk research and interviews with government officials, NGOs, police, community members, and affected individuals, it identifies and discusses the problems that contribute to the government’s failure to hold abusive educators responsible for their actions and to protect and provide redress to the learners they have abused. It also situates these issues within a framework of South Africa’s international, regional, and domestic legal obligations, and provides recommendations aimed at filling these gaps.
University of the Witwatersrand. Centre for Applied Legal Studies, Cornell Law School. Avon Global Center for Women and Justice, and Cornell Law School. International Human Rights Clinic, "Sexual Violence by Educators in South African Schools: Gaps in Accountability" (2014). Avon Global Center for Women and Justice and Dorothea S. Clarke Program in Feminist Jurisprudence. Paper 6.