n African Human Rights Law Journal - Combating sexual violence in schools in sub-Saharan Africa : legal strategies under regional and international human rights law

Volume 13, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1609-073X
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2096



Although schools are generally regarded as a 'safe haven' for children, the reality for many girls is that schools can be a place of sexual discrimination, harassment and violence, perpetrated by fellow male students and teachers alike. The widespread problem of sexual and gender-based violence, particularly sexual violence, in schools has been well-documented in a range of studies and reports in sub-Saharan Africa. Sexual and gender-based violence in schools not only violates girls' fundamental rights to dignity and equality, and their rights to be free from violence, but it also undermines their rights to education, particularly when, as is often the case, states fail to take measures to protect girls. Although there is a growing body of empirical research documenting the nature and extent of this problem, particularly in various sub-Saharan African countries, how regional and international human rights law applies to protect girls in this situation appears to have received limited consideration. This article attempts to fill this gap in the literature, by providing an analysis of the problem of sexual and gender-based violence in schools within the framework of regional and international human rights law. The article's objective is to identify and discuss rights-based legal strategies to combat this pervasive human rights violation, specifically within the sub-Saharan African context, with an emphasis on regional developments and regional responses.

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