When then Sosukwana Girl Guides heard about a problem in their community they took action to make their streets safer. Read about their story and find out how you can take part in #16Days.
Sosukwana School must have one of the best views in South Africa. The school is etched into a hill overlooking a valley in the Msinsini Area of KwaZulu-Natal, an eastern province of South Africa. Normally this picturesque campus is home to 410 students, but last year rumours of children being trafficked as they walked to and from school kept many away.
“The community became scared one of the pupils would go missing,” one student said. “Children were afraid to go to school and teachers began seeing a number of absences as a result.” One teacher said it was a frightening time for staff. “After school, when a car comes, the children run in such a way they were injured. Even us teachers would stand and watch to make sure all children got home,” she said. “They ended up not coming to school.”
A group of 32 Girl Guides at the school, aged 10-14, decided to act. They wanted to create awareness of child trafficking and decided to hold a march. They called stakeholders like social workers, police and education officials. The march in June 2017 drew all students along with community members, parents, and staff from departments of Health, Social Welfare, Police and Transport. The traffic department created a stage for speeches from different officials. The community was directed to the right places to report trafficking and encouraged to speak out.
Girls were able to voice their concerns
about feeling scared. They marched down the road, singing and chanting
peacefully. “It sent a message and Guides encouraged others to open up and say
something,” one Guide said.
After the march, the Guides described feeling happy because the community had shown support for the students and now they knew how to report abuse. They also said students were returning to school as they felt protected. “I felt like a hero because whoever felt scared, especially children, now felt secure,” one Guide said. “Girl Guides help people who are abused in the community. We help elders who need assistance at home, teachers at school and we protect the environment. We help anyone who is shy to report abuse. We encourage them to talk and say something if they see anything happening in the community.”
Campaigns like this are going on around the
globe from 25 November to 10 December as part of 16 Days of Activism Against
Gender-Based Violence. This year the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl
Scouts (WAGGGS) is running a campaign called Our Streets Too. Guiding groups,
like Sosukwana School, are asked to identify unsafe spaces, contact decision makers and
help make these spaces their safe for everyone, because these should be
#OurStreetsToo. Find out more here.