|dc.description.abstract||This study is a qualitative study that draws on an interpretive approach. The gender relational
theory was used as the theoretical lens with which to view how young girls’ gendered
identities are socially constructed. The purpose of this study is to explore the ways in which
young girls aged 13-18 from Hope (pseudonym) Township School in Umlazi in KwaZulu-
Natal, South Africa, perceive, comprehend and experience gender violence. The study
examines the ways in which unequal gender power relations expose these girls to sexual
violence, sexual abuse and HIV and AIDS. The study demonstrates that these girls who live
in the informal settlements located near the school are vulnerable to patriarchal norms. The
informal settlements from which these girls emerge are situated in lower socio-economic
contexts and characterised by problematic social, economic and political issues, including
high unemployment, a high crime rate, poverty, drug and substance abuse.
The study is premised on the notion that all violence within the school context is gendered.
This study seeks to investigate how the young girls construct their sexual identities amidst the
prevailing gender violence.
The findings show that some young girls are vulnerable to gender violence due to the
school`s social and cultural belief systems that reinforce gender violence. The girls offer
reasons for engaging in sexual practices that place them at risk, in spite of their knowledge of
the dangers of sexually transmitted infections, HIV and AIDS and unplanned pregnancy. The
findings also show that these young girls engage in unprotected sex with their partners due to
peer pressure, and a fear of being discriminated against. The findings also demonstrate that
some young girls make attempts to resist male domination by openly resisting particular
stereotypical and sexist expectations of them. Moreover, the fear of contracting HIV and
AIDS and teenage pregnancy acted as a deterrent with regard to some girls participating in
risky sexual behaviours.
The results of this research also show that parents, teachers and the surrounding school
community fail to implement interventions which aim to protect young girls from all forms of
gender violence. Thus, the gendered nature of girls’ vulnerability to gender violence
manifests through the abuse of power by boys in school.
This study found that girls are victimised both within and outside the school. It appears that
boys are exempt from multiple forms of gender inequalities and sexual violence that girls are
subjected to in school. This research recommends that collaboration between schools, parents
and the private sector should be encouraged so that girls’ vulnerability to gender violence can
be addressed. In addition, this research advocates for long term intervention plans to protect
young girls against all forms of oppression in schools.||en_US