Contributors are invited to write on the topic above from either a research or an activism perspective. Abstracts and contributions must be written in English and in a style accessible to a wide audience. Please submit abstracts to or

No later than 17th November 2014

GUEST EDITORS: Prof. Claudia Mitchell and Prof. Naydene de Lange

Conceptual Rationale:

This issue of Agenda takes forward concerns raised in the Gender-based Violence ‘Trilogy’ (Domestic Violence, Agenda, 19(66); Trafficking, Agenda, 20(70); Rape, Agenda 21(74) and a recent issue on Girlhood in Southern Africa (Agenda, 23(79)) in order to consider the ways in which we might re-imagine ways of addressing the extreme levels of violence that girls and young women in the Global South encounter on the streets, in families, in institutions such as schools, universities, in the workplace, and in communities. Clearly the issue of sexual violence and coercive sex is a pressing concern for our society as a whole. South Africa has one of the highest rates of sexual assault in the world, and while absolute numbers are unreliable because of under-reporting, adolescent girls between the ages of 12 and 17 are particularly at risk (Gender Links 2012; Human Rights Watch 2001; Burton & Leoschut 2013). As Banwari (2011) notes, in 2000, of the over 52,550 cases of rape or attempted rape of girls and women reported to the South African Police Service, 21,438 were under the age of 18 years (with 7,898 of these under 12 years).

Confounding the under-reporting of sexual assault, as Banwari notes, is the fact that rates of prosecution are low; a 2005 study indicates that fewer than 1% of cases actually result in a conviction.The issues are exacerbated by the conservative gender regimes and practices that prevail. In rural areas, for example, sexual violence is frequently shaped by certain customary practices, particularly the taboos relating to discussing sex and sexual activity across generations. This often works to intensify the violence rural girls and young women may experience, but it can also be played out in a variety of ways in the different urban contexts.

In spite of the extensive media coverage on the issue of sexual violence, the responses to the violence have clearly been ineffective. The lack of success has often been attributed by some to a lack of political commitment. For example, the Sixteen Days of Activism is increasingly criticised as a hollow intervention. Similarly political expressions of outrage have not translated into effective intervention. The state gender machinery is underfunded and the gender desks have not produced the results for which they were designed.

In this issue of Agenda we are interested in articles, stories and commentaries related to addressing sexual violence that reflect/focus on ways to re-think and re-imagine a world that is free of sexual violence for girls and young women. There are numerous local small scale projects and other interventions in schools and communities where girls themselves are at the centre of speaking out through media production (See MacEntee 2014). How might such interventions and initiatives contribute to this transformation? For example, a recent campaign, KwaneleEnuf is Enuf, launched in October 2014 at the Nelson Mandela University aims to address sexual abuse and violence across all universities. It is an example of how the focus and voice of one woman can raise the issue of addressing gender-based violence, bringing it into the public domain, and calling for a transformation of violent cultures in South Africa. Another initiative, the Girls Leading Change project, as highlighted in a recent Agenda Feminist Media and Human Sciences Research Council Feminist Dialogue forum drew attention to the key role that young women who were in their first year of university could play in taking action in relation to policy making. In this issue, we invite work that pushes the idea and practice of intervention as related to transforming violent cultures.

Thematic areas might include (but are not limited to) the following:

• Analysis of social policy frameworks and legal policy instruments that protect the rights of girls: where are the gaps, particularly in relation to looking at interventions?
• Culture and cultures of violence and the notion of intervention
• Critical analysis of girlhood discourses in relation to the idea of intervention
• Educating to address school related gender violence
• Interventions to effect ‘from the ground up’ policy making
• Geographies of danger and safety: Changing spaces
• Organized interventions framed as ‘girl-led’
• Legal frameworks and legal responses
• Ethics of girl-led interventions
• Positive sexuality
• Interventions related to militarization and sexual violence
• Mainstreaming gender in the curriculum as a strategy to address sexual violence
• Sexuality and violence
• Sexuality, race and class
• Technologies to address sexual violence in interventions
• Transformative methodologies in addressing sexual violence
• Evaluating interventions: what difference does this make?


Agenda Feminist Media & Human Sciences Research Council 2014. Transforming violent culture and building platforms for young women. Feminist Dialogue, HSRC, Durban 24 June.

Banwari, M. 2011. Poverty, child sexual abuse and HIV in the Transkei region,
South Africa. African Health Sciences, 11(3), 117-121.

Burton, P., & Leoschut, L. 2013. School Violence in South Africa: Results of the 2012 National School Violence Study. Retrieved from

Gender Links 2012. The war @ home: Findings of GBV prevalence study in South Africa. Retrieved from,

Human Rights Watch 2001. Scared at School: Sexual violence against girls in
South African schools. New York: Human Rights Watch.

Kapoor, D., & Choudry, A. 2010. Learning from the ground up: Global perspectives on social movements and knowledge production. New York, NY: Macmillan.

MacEntee, K. 2014. Using cellphones to discuss cellphones, sex, risk, and female
heterosexuality in and around schools in rural South Africa. American Educational Research Association, Philadelphia, Penn. April 29-May 4.

See Editorial Policy for  submission details

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