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Violence in academia

In its quest to fight against sexual and gender-based violence against women in Madagascar, the Center Arrupe Madagascar (CA MDG) organized jointly with the University Catholic Chaplaincy of Madagascar, a conference-debate was initiated by the Health and Family Program (PSF) on July 9 at the CA MDG, entitled “Fight against violence against women and girls, what challenges for the university world?” The assistance, numbering sixty-one, is essentially made up of young students from different regions of Madagascar.

The themes addressed by the panelists during the conference spoke of the different types of violence and its consequences, sexual corruption in schools and universities, the challenges in university circles concerning the fight against violence against women and girls, and the position of the church vis-à-vis this violence.

The first responder was a representative of the Vonjy Center, a center that cares for child victims of sexual violence. As a social worker in charge of the psychological support of these children, she introduced young university students to what violence is: the definition, the different forms of violence, the psychological and physical impacts. On the other hand, the person in charge of the fight against sexual corruption in schools and universities, shared the results of the research carried out by the NGO Transparency International in three regions of Madagascar. She raised that the violence in these circles are very complex and multifaceted. In addition, they affect several categories of people and hinder academic progress.

According to this study, 84% of students have already been victims of “sextortion”, which is not only sexual harassment, but also includes the element of corruption. The phenomenon has become commonplace, it has almost become a must for young people who want to succeed in their studies. The third speaker in her capacity as a professor of public law spoke of human rights. She highlighted the importance of promoting human values ​​and non-violence: preventing conflict by respecting others and the law. The last intervention concerned more the religious dimension of the challenge. Every person, male and female, is in the image of God; and the Church’s mission is to educate parents and young people so that everyone has this notion, this value so that everyone can live together.

The sharing of concrete cases challenged the audience and enabled them to find appropriate solutions to similar cases. The debates that followed the interventions were so heated that no one noticed the time.

Pe. Matambura Ismael, SJ


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