Girls at risk from sex abuse by teachers

29th November 2002 at 00:00
ZAMBIA.

Up to one in five girls are sexually abused at school by their teachers, the head of a leading aid agency said ahead of World Aids day this Sunday. Alick Nyirenda, director of the Copperbelt Health Education Project based in Kitwe, said the stigma and secrecy surrounding HIVAids had made addressing the problem more difficult.

With 400 new infections a day adding to the 1.2 million young people already estimated to be HIV positive in Zambia, children as young as six are most at risk in the one place they should feel safe - school.

CHEP, funded by Christian Aid, educates young people about preventative measures and gives girls assertiveness training in how to repel an abusive teacher.

The ministry of education estimates that more than 1,000 teachers a year die of Aids. Yet staff are bribing students into sex by offering them illicit access to exam papers - dubbed "leakage" - or buying them books or a school uniform.

A popular myth that Aids can be cured by having sex with a virgin is adding to the problem.

Rose Chali, 21, was forced into sex with her science teacher after he told her all students used "leakage" to pass their exams.

With CHEP's help Rose finally reported her tutor, who was sacked.

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