Parow schoolgirls have been warned to look after their sexual health, stay away from “blessers” and speak out about abuse.
Denise Robinson, a DA member of parliament and the party’s spokesperson for women, talked to more than 500 teenage girls at Parow High School on Wednesday August 2, ahead of National Women’s Day, which is marked today, Wednesday August 9, this week.
Ms Robinson is also the leader of the Democratic Alliance Women’s Network (DAWN) which raises awareness about rape, domestic violence, child support and access to antiretroviral drugs, among other issues affecting South African women.
She told the girls that “no” meant “no” and they had the right to a good education and a job “which would benefit you and your future children.”
Warning about so-called “blessers”, who prey on young girls, dispensing money and gifts for sex, she said: “We have to work with men and boys to change their mindset when it comes to how they treat
women. Remember, ladies, you make the choice regarding your future.”
She said DAWN was working hard to stop the human trafficking of women and girls.
“Many times in places like Murraysburg we find that truckers pick up young girls and women. These women are promised a job when they reach Cape Town, but, when they do, they are filtered into brothels. These women are left shattered when they don’t get the job they are promised.
“We as women, are not sexual creatures. DAWN empowers women to become better versions of themselves. DAWN is when the sun rises after the darkness of the night.
“We see the darkness as the ignorance we find in our society regarding women’s rights and issues.”
She said contraceptives were widely available and those who didn’t practise safe sex ran the risk of picking up a sexually-transmitted disease.
“Don’t let your male partners manipulate you into thinking that skin-on-skin penetration is better.” Ms Robinson urged the pupils to speak up if they were ever victims of domestic violence or any type of abuse.
“We must not keep quiet about abuse; it only benefits the perpetrators. We need to do all we can to rid our society of it”.
Carlynn Groenewaldt, Parow High’s deputy head girl, said the leering gazes and cat calling she experienced when walking down the street left her feeling disempowered.
“These men usually make remarks and in the moment it feels like my worth is depreciating. I want men to stop this behaviour and to realise that we human beings before we are women.”
Head girl Alisha Viljoen said she felt some men were unable to respect women because they had not been taught to respect themselves.
“Poverty and unemployment play a big role in the way they behave.”
She said she was determined to achieve her goals and
become a professional accountant despite the discrimination women faced.
“I was going to study full-time, but my grandparents are growing older and I want to give back to them for raising me,” she said.
The school’s deputy principal, Amanda Kruger, said: “I think it’s necessary that our girls get to hear from people outside of their environment about these issues.”