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Are Schools Safe Places for Girls and Boys?


Are Schools Safe and Equal Places for Girls and Boys in Asia? Research Findings on School-Related Gender-Based Violence

Plan International and the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW) undertook research in five countries in Asia (Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan and Vietnam), to assess the prevalence, nature, response and reporting of various forms of school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) in, around and on the way to school.

We spoke to more than 9,000 girls and boys across these countries about their experiences of violence and gender equality in schools. The findings from this research have been pivotal in designing an effective programme that responds to the real needs, priorities and interests of girls and boys in these countries.

SRGBV includes any form of violence based on gender stereotypes or that targets students on the basis of their sex. It includes, but is not limited to, rape, unwanted sexual touching, unwanted sexual comments, corporal punishment, bullying and verbal harassment. 

The research has found that students’ inequitable gender attitudes are a main driver of SRGBV, with boys having more regressive gender attitudes than girls. The high prevalence of violence in schools and at home (including emotional violence) makes students feel unsafe and increases the likelihood of their perpetration of violence. 

Research findings point to the need for focusing on gender equality in education and the need for a multi-level approach addressing barriers at the individual, community, school and policy levels if we are to tackle SRGBV in a sustainable way.

Programming to achieve gender equality and prevent gender-based violence is as much about empowering girls as it is about redefining masculinity and ideas of manhood. School focused efforts must be accompanied by policy and advocacy as well as community-based awareness building.

  • Summary report