15-year-old says — “Speak up against women abuse”

MARAPONG — Grade 10 learner of Phegelelo Secondary School in Marapong, Lesego Phogole (15), says silence isn’t always golden when it comes to gender-based violence.

Lesego started a campaign, “Women of Steel” because “women can’t be broken down by acidic men,” she says.

Lesego says she has been worried about how most girls in secondary schools keep quiet after going through abuse.

“My campaign is about young women finding the courage to speak out against physical abuse and rape. I have realised that some of my peers go through the worst form of abuse and keep quiet to protect the reputation of whoever abused them and to avoid being stigmatised.

“Some girls go as far as saying there is nothing they can do about being beaten by their boyfriends. I don’t know where they get that idea from, because it is not a culture,” she said.

The idea behind her campaign came in June after she attended the “Take a Girl Child to Work Campaign”, where women in the professional work environment encouraged female learners to put their minds into what they do and want to achieve.

“My presentations are currently focused on secondary schools and I am planning to involve Busisiwe Litube, an Engineer at Matimba Power Station.

Busisiwe inspired me during our visit to the power station and I would like to work with her as well as other women in the business and professional working environment, to build confidence among young girls in Lephalale.

“At a later stage I plan to have girl groups where women will help build each other’s confidence. This could be followed by a peaceful march to create awareness of how gender-based abuse can dissolve women,” she said.

Lesego’s wish is to see her campaign kick-start by the end of August as it is Women’s Month in South Africa.

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