Spring 2020

South Africa’s sex education aims to reduce gender-based violence

By Hannah Farrow
Medill Reports

Growing up in South Africa’s Eastern Cape, Asa Jali had a narrow outlook on relationships. “You learn that if your boyfriend hits you, that’s how they show you love. So if he doesn’t, he doesn’t love you. If there’s no violence, he doesn’t love you,” Jali, 23, said.

Her views are common throughout the country. Like most of her friends, Jali didn’t learn anything about sex, let alone consent, in high school. “You don’t know anything about your vagina as well, what satisfaction means and how to get an orgasm.”

Despite South Africa’s Life Orientation curriculum — a nationwide program for grades four through 12 that includes robust sex education — gender-based violence remains a nationwide issue in South Africa. The Department of Basic Education reported in 2019 that more than one in three girls is sexually assaulted before the age of 17.

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