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Gender violence in schools in the developing world

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Abstract

This paper explores gender violence in schools in what is commonly known as the 'developing world' through a review of recent research written in English. Violence in the school setting has only recently emerged as a widespread and serious phenomenon in these countries, with the consequence that our knowledge and understanding of it is embryonic; much of it remains invisible or unrecognized. Informed by research from elsewhere, we use theories of gender/sexual relations to provide a more coherent understanding of the issues, to point to absences and open up spaces for further research with the potential to contribute to strategies through which it might be addressed. We start by clarifying the purposes and the broad position adopted in writing this paper. Then, we trace the conceptual connections between gender/sexual relations and gender violence in schools, acknowledging the importance of locating understanding of the phenomena within the context of the school's culture, its structures and processes. We organize the review using two overlapping categories: implicit gender violence, which relates to the everyday institutional structures and practices, and explicit gender violence, which relates to more overtly sexualized encounters. Both categories cover gender violence perpetrated by students on other students, by teachers on students, and by students on teachers. In the final section, the theoretical connections (and distinctions) generated by the research allow for a critical overview of the strategies that have been used to address the problem to date.

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