South Africa has one of the highest rates of sexual violence and assault in the world. I PROTECT ME (IPM) trains women and children to protect themselves against sexual attack without using weapons, and challenges prevailing attitudes towards gender-based violence by empowering school children and other vulnerable groups to protect themselves against sexual violence through self-defence and gender-awareness training. It collects and records stories of abuse from children themselves, and in this way it is also a strong advocate for cultural change within public institutions and media in South Africa.
IPM believes that the potential of young people can only be unlocked by creating safe, positive spaces for them to live and learn in. In South Africa, eradicating the scourge of Gender Based Violence (GBV) in schools and against vulnerable children and youth is an essential step on this path.
Up to now, IPM has been working with primary-school children and women. An external evaluation on IPM’s work in primary schools was carried out in 2016 and showed that sexual violence prevention education in schools is vital. It surveyed teachers in all schools in which IPM had been working, to measure the project’s relevance and effectiveness, with impressive outcomes. (See evaluation report below).
Adolescents aged 12-17 are at most risk of sexual attack worldwide and are the prime target for gang recruiters and would-be sexual aggressors.
IPM plans to extend its training to teenagers as well. Currently IPM is looking for funding to allow them to begin a first round of training in two high schools in the Eastern Cape as well as four primary schools. The training would take place within the Life Skills Curriculum and will reach 1,000 children in each school and a total of about 60 teachers and administrative staff. It will also include liaising with local statutory services to provide additional services such as victim support, and raising awareness around GBV within the local communities, as part of IPM’s whole-community approach to Sexual Violence Intervention. The programme, running over 30 weeks (three terms) with an intensity of four hours per day over multiple classes in each school, will begin in January-February 2018.
Long Term Impact
Training 6,000 children and young people will enable them to protect themselves on a daily basis and teachers and school leaders will be better equipped to create a culture of safety free from gender-based violence. Ultimately, IPM’s vision is to give self-protection and protective behaviour training to every school child in South Africa, helping create a new generation of young people who will challenge the current, harmful attitudes towards gender-based violence in South Africa.
I Protect Me page on SDIA Website
Project leader: Monica Clarke / Michelle Coburn
Location: Cape Town, South Africa