n Perspectives in Education - Towards gender equality : South African schools during the HIV and AIDS epidemic, R. Morell, D. Epstein, E. Unterhalter, D. Bhana and R. Moletsane : book review

Volume 28, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0258-2236



I have rarely been bombarded almost simultaneously by so many emotions as I was in reading this book. As a gender activist I felt deeply sad to once again face the realisation that violence against girls and women in South Africa remains a daily experience for far too many. I felt my heart torn out as I read the story of the little girl who was raped in grade one and I was filled with frustration towards the her mother who was angry with her for becoming sexually active at so early an age. I could explain the mother's feelings but as a mother myself I could find no fit in such explanation. I wished I could hold this little angel tightly in my arms and love her profusely and take away her hurt. But I could not and I felt helpless. The boys who conflate rape and the sexual act with the emotion of loving, young men who thought it was their right to appropriate sex angered me. I was heartened to hear the stories of some boys who showed respect for the girls in their school. I admired those teachers who worked against all odds to offer care and guidance to their learners. I was happy to know that there were teachers who put their hearts on the line, despite those who sought refuge in distancing. Most of all I felt helpless and heartbroken that so many beautiful young women and men live in daily fear of being raped and violently assaulted by people they know and sometimes love. As the authors themselves suggest the book is about both "hope and despair" (p 168).

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