Addressing silences in research on girls’ experiences of teacher sexual violence: insights from Uganda

Case Studies & Research
p. 193-213
Periodical title
Comparative Education, 59 (2023), 2

Growing evidence from multiple countries in Africa documents sexual violence in schools. However, when that violence is committed by teachers it is shrouded in secrecy. This article identifies disconnects between quantitative and qualitative research, policy and practice, which have contributed to these silences. We address some of these silences through a dialogical analysis of mixed methods data from the Contexts of Violence in Adolescence Cohort study (CoVAC) with young people in Uganda. The analysis illuminates girls’ experiences of sexual violence by school staff, and patterns of discrimination and inequality that increase vulnerabilities. The data reveal how schools vary in their institutional responses and, in the absence of institutional support, girls develop strategies to resist sexual coercion. Overall, our analysis exposes significant disconnects between policies and practices of sexual exploitation in schools. We conclude that dialogical, mixed methods research approaches have strong potential to better understand and address silences in policy and practice on highly sensitive topics.

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