Shrouds of silence: a case study of sexual abuse in schools in the Limpopo Province in South Africa
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This study seeks to understand the reasons that allow a parent, a principal and a teacher to maintain silence when young girls under their care are sexually abused. Put another way, it attempts to explain what it is about sexual abuse that makes these parties relinquish their role as protectors of innocent children. This paper, based on a larger study of sexual abuse in schools in the Limpopo Province, investigates the possibility that teacher/learner sexual abuse has, over the years, become imbued in a cultural silence linked to African cultural practices. It is argued here that the silence on sexual abuse might be rooted in traditional, patriarchal views on gender and social justice. The research findings indicate that there might well be a growing resistance to what is regarded by some communities as the imposition of liberal, urban, value systems on traditional, rural African people.