Teaching Girls About Rights

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 Sex as Currency

Throughout history, girls and women in subservient positions have used their sexuality as a currency to gain access to resources, opportunity and power. For some girls, it is the only currency they have to survive. It is important for all participants and staff to understand that sexuality is not an acceptable currency in the context of a sport programme and adopt a zero tolerance policy against it. However, girls who employ this means of access outside of sport should not be stigmatized or punished, as they often need the alternatives sport offers even more than their peers.

Girl Leadership in Discussions

Personal empowerment and control are closely linked. Programme partners report that when a girl feels like she has control over her body, her future and her environment, she begins to feel strong and powerful. It is important to give participants in your programme some degree of control over how gender-based violence is addressed, especially when the intent of the programme is to increase girls' self esteem and agency. Girls are more likely to fully engage in activities that they help design, lead and manage.  

Tips for Developing Leadership

  • Be patient. Leadership is a skill that is developed over time. Ask girls what they are good at and how they want to build their skills and confidence. Encourage them to lead their own development.
  • Allow girls to elect their own leaders.
  • Highlight examples of good leadership on and off the playing field.
  • Let girls train others in sport-specific, practical and life skills.
  • Show girls you value their opinions.
  • Explicitly talk about and encourage discussions about leadership values to girls regularly.
  • Lead by example as a coach or programme leader.
  • Support positive role modelling.
  • Allow girls to choose if they want to fill leadership roles.
  • Encourage girls to go out in community and be recognised.
  • Reward acts of leadership with outward praise and formal honours.
  • Create standards of what it takes to be a leader for girls without disabilities and girls with disabilities.
  • Reward exceptional performance with leadership roles.
  • Give all girls opportunities to lead during practice, not just older, talented girls without disabilities or more natural leaders.
  • Constantly encourage goal setting and evaluation.
  • Target inhibitors of leadership and address them, such as lack of confidence, peer pressure, or poor mentoring.
  • Seek to help every girl develop to her highest personal potential, as opposed to constantly criticising or comparing girls to one another.


The notion of assuming girls and women contribute to their own victimization plays a significant role in each type of gender-based violence. Susan Estrich wrote that there is prevalent belief that “real rape” rarely occurs because the girls or women involved have brought the use of force upon themselves or have not actually experienced force in any real sense. 52 Based on the high prevalence of rape worldwide, some researchers have argued that some countries have a rape supportive culture.

For example, a man who rapes a woman he judges to be sexually provocative might validate his actions as being a suitable punishment for her transgression of socially constructed norms of female behaviour. Statements such as, “She was dressed provocatively” or “She should have known better than to put herself in that situation” serve only to shift the focus of blame onto the survivor rather than onto the perpetrator of the crime.  In some reports, such perceptions of blame have been regarded as “secondary victimization” 53 particularly when girls and women receive negative attributions of blame from social support groups or authorities. 54 Consequently, this blaming can have a strong, adverse impact on the survivor.

Under no circumstances is a girl or woman at fault for experiencing GBV. There is no reason men should assume a girl or woman’s sexual availability based on what she is wearing or how she carries herself. It should not be interpreted as an invitation to rape, harass or imply any other sexual innuendos. Gender-based violence is the fault of the perpetrator.


52 . Estrich, 1987 Real rape: How the legal system victimizes women who say no. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Susan Estrich is a Professor of Law who chose to study the idea of victim-blaming after her own rape.

53 . Rape victims may turn to the legal, medical, and mental health systems for assistance, but there is a growing body of literature indicating that many survivors are denied help by these agencies. What help victims do receive often leaves them feeling revictimised. These negative experiences have been termed "the second rape" or "secondary victimization." In, Campbell, Rebecca and Raja, Sheela, Secondary Victimization of Rape Victims: Insights From Mental Health Professionals Who Treat Survivors of Violence, Violence and Victims, Volume 14, Number 3, 1999 , pp. 261-275(15)

54 . Frese, B., Moya, M., & Megías, J. L. (2004). Social perception of rape. How rape myth acceptance modulates the influence of situational factors. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 19, 143-161.