Centre for International Education (CIE)

Gender Violence in Schools

Gender violence in and around school has been recognised in recent years as a serious global phenomenon. We have ignored for too long what goes on in the school environment. The sad fact is that schools are not always the child-friendly places we expect them to be. Violence can be perpetrated by pupils or teachers in or around the school, or by out of school youth and/or older men who demand sex in exchange for money or gifts. Acts of gender violence are disproportionately directed at girls, but boys and teachers can also be targets.

The two year global study on Violence against Children, commissioned by the Secretary General of the United Nations and reported to the General Assembly in 2006, investigated schools as one of a number of centres of violence.

A number of organsations have recently developed strategies to tackle the problem. In our efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals on universal access and gender equality in education, we need to better understand the factors contributing to school-related violence as well as its impacts on pupils' participation in education - particularly girls'.

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Research studies online


See below series of newsletters on gender violence which were developed in and for a selection of countries:

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Related websites

Related news items

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There is a wide range of interesting information on gender violence in education available from various sources in addition to those listed above. Below are a number of bibliographic references to research studies on the subject:

  • Abrahams, N. (2003): School Violence: another burden facing the girl child. A paper presented at the second South African Gender-Based Violence and Health Conference, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Alam, N. Roy, S.K. and Ahmed, T. (2010): Sexually Harassing Behavior Against Adolescent Girls in Rural Bangladesh Implications for Achieving Millennium Development Goals, Journal of Interpersonal Violence 25 (3): 443-456
  • Bakari, S. and Leach, F. (2007): Hijacking equal opportunity policies in a Nigerian College of Education: the micropolitics of gender. Women’s Studies International Forum, 30, 2, 85-96
  • Brown, L.M., Chesney-Lind, M. and Stein, N. (2004): Patriarchy Matters: Towards a Gendered Theory of Teen Violence and Victimization. Wellesley Centers for Women Working Paper No. 417, Wellesley College, MA, USA
  • Burnett, C. (1998): School violence in an impoverished South African community, Child Abuse and Neglect, 22,8, 789-795
  • Duncan, N. (1999): Sexual Bullying:Gender Conflict and Pupil Culture in Secondary Schools. London, Routledge
  • Dunne, M., Humphreys, S. and Leach, F. (2006): Gender violence in schools in the developing world, Gender and Education, 18, 1, 75-98
  • Dunne, M., Leach, F., Chilisa, B., Maundeni, T., Tabulawa, R., Kutor, N., Dzama, F. and Assamoah, A. (2005): Schools as Gendered Institutions: the Impact on Retention and Achievement, London: DFID
  • Gordon, R. (1995): Causes of Girls' Academic Underachievement: the Influence of Teachers' Attitudes and Expectations on the Academic Performance of Secondary School Girls, Harare: HRCC, University of Zimbabwe
  • Hallam, S. (1994): Crimes Without Punishment:Sexual Harassment and Violence Against Female Students in Schools and Universities in Africa. Discussion Paper No. 4. London, Africa Rights
  • Harber, C. (2004): Schooling as Violence: how Schools Harm Pupils and Societies, London: Routledge Falmer
  • Heyneman, S.P. (ed) (2009): Buying your Way into Heaven: Education and corruption in international perspective, Rotterdam, Sense
  • Khoza, V. (2002): Schools: safe havens or sites of violence? Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity. Special Issue: What Future Can we Make: Education, Youth and HIV/AIDS, 53, 75-80
  • Leach, F. (2008): Violence against girls: do schools do enough to protect them against HIV/AIDS? In S. Aikman and E. Unterhalter (eds) Gender Equality, HIV and AIDS. Oxford: Oxfam/ActionAid International
  • Leach, F. and Mitchell, C. (eds) (2006): Combating Gender Violence in and around Schools, Stoke-on-Trent, UK and Sterling, USA: Trentham
  • Leach, F. (2006): Researching gender violence in schools: methodological and ethical considerations, World Development, 34, 6, 1129-1147
  • Leach, F. (2003): Learning to be violent: the role of the school in developing adolescent gendered behaviour, Compare, 33,3, 385-400                                    
  • Luke, N. and Kurz, K. (2002): Cross-Generational and Transactional Sexual Relations in Sub-Saharan Africa: Prevalence of Behavior and Implications for Negotiating Safer Sexual Practices. Washington, DC, International Center for Research on Women
  • Mac an Ghaill, M. (1994:) The Making of Men: Masculinities, Sexualities and Schooling, Buckingham: Open University Press
  • Leach, F. and Sitaram, S. (2007): The sexual harassment and abuse of adolescent schoolgirls in South India. Journal of Education, Citizenship and Social Justice, 2, 3: 257-277
  • Mgalla, Z., Ties Boerma, J., and Schapink, D. (1998): Protecting School Girls Against Sexual Exploitation: A Guardian Program in Mwanza, Tanzania. Reproductive Health Matters 7(12):19.
  • Mirembe, R. and Davies, L. (2001): Is Schooling a Risk? Gender, Power Relations, and School Culture in Uganda, Gender and Education, 13, 401-416
  • Mlamleli, O., Napo, V., Mabelane, P., Free, V., Goodman, M., Larkin, J., Mitchell, C., Mkhize, H., Robinson, K. and Smith, A. (2001): Opening Our Eyes: Addressing Gender-based Violence in South African Schools, Pretoria: Canada-South Africa Management Programme
  • Nhundu, T. J. and Shumba, A. (2001): The Nature and Frequency of Reported Cases of Teacher Perpetrated Child Sexual Abuse in Rural Primary Schools in Zimbabwe. Child Abuse and Neglect 25, pp.1517-1534
  • Niehaus, I. (2000): Towards a Dubious Liberation: masculinity, sexuality and power in South African Lowveld Schools, 1953-1999. Journal of Southern African Studies, 26, 3, 387-407
  • Nyanzi, S., Pool, R. and Kinsman, J. (2000): The negotiation of sexual relationships among school pupils in south-western Uganda, AIDS CARE, 13, 1 pp 83-98
  • Omale, J. (2000): Tested to Their Limit: Sexual Harassment in Schools and Educational Institutions in Kenya. In Judith Mirsky and Marty Radlett, editors, No Paradise Yet: The Worlds' Women Face the New Century. London, Zed Press, pp.19-38.
  • Pattman, R. and Chege F. (2003): Finding Our Voices: gendered and sexual identities and HIV/AIDS in education, UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office, Nairobi, Kenya
  • Renold, E. (2002): 'Presumed innocence': (hetero)sexual, homophobic and heterosexist harassment amongst children in primary school. Childhood, 9, 4, pp 415-433
  • Rivers, R. (2000): Shattered Hopes: study of sexual abuse of girls, UNICEF Botswana
  • Rossetti, S. (2001): Children in School: A Safe Place? Botswana, UNESCO
  • Sewell, T. (1997): Black Masculinities and Schooling. Stoke-on-Trent: Trentham
  • Shumba, A. (2001): Who Guards the Guards? A Study of Reported Cases of Child Abuse by Teachers in Zimbabwean Secondary Schools. Sex Education 1, pp. 77-86
  • Terefe, D. and Mengistu, D. (1997): Violence in Ethiopian Schools:A Study of Some Schools in Addis Ababa. In Violence at Schools: Global Issues and Interventions, edited by T. Ohsako. Paris, UNESCO International Bureau of Education
  • Timmerman, G. (2003): Sexual harassment of adolescents perpetrated by teachers and peers: an exploration of the dynamics of power, culture and gender in secondary schools. Sex Roles: A journal of research, 48, 5-6, 231-244


Professor Fiona Leach
Centre for International Education (CIE)
Department of Education
School of Education and Social Work
Essex House
University of Sussex
T: +44 (0)1273 678256
E: F.E.Leach@sussex.ac.uk