EDUCATION and Training Minister Dr Mahali Phamotse says cases of school dropouts, abduction and killing of girl children were most prevalent in Mokhotlong.
The minister also called on girl children to respect their bodies and avoid sex before marriage to ensure they furthered their education.
In her remarks during the official launch of Hlokomela Banana at St James High School in Mokhotlong on Friday, Dr Phamotse said the district was topping statistics of violations of girl children’s rights.
Hlokomela Banana – Their Freedom, Our Future – is a charity campaign championed by Queen ‘Masenate Bereng Seeiso to alleviate the challenges underprivileged girl children face such as having no sanitary pads during menstrual periods.
“There are high numbers of abductions of underage girls, with many forced to drop out of school. In cases where they fight the abduction, girl children are sometimes killed in cold blood by their captors,” Dr Phamotse said.
“The district is also leading in cases of teenage pregnancy and minor-adult relationships influenced by the patriarchal society where girls are promised financial gains in return for sex.”
She added: “Boys are also making life a living hell for girls by chasing them with dogs on their way to and from school. A higher number of girls are also forced to miss school monthly during their menstrual periods due to poverty.
“There is also a high number of children born with disabilities because their mothers were children themselves and their bodies not fully developed.”
Dr Phamotse also urged girls to respect their bodies and not engage in premarital sex.
“Remember, what is done behind closed doors always comes out, and in most cases your secrets are exposed either during backdoor abortion procedures or when the pregnancy tummy starts showing,” she said.
“When those secrets come out, don’t commit suicide since it is not the end of the world. Stand up, dust yourself and face the world.”
The minister pleaded with the learners to report cases of abuse, even from their teachers.
“I know some teachers abuse their powers and threaten their pupils with repeating a class if they report them. Report to me directly by sending me a WhatsApp. I will not divulge your name but I promise to protect and fight for you.”
Dr Phamotse also advised the learners to resist offers of jobs from abroad as they usually ended-up in sex slavery.
“There is a young Mosotho girl who was sponsored to study in Cape Town, South Africa and unfortunately she fell for a job offer in Washington, DC through social media,” the minister said.
“Upon her arrival, there was no employment and she was turned into a sex slave. She is mentally traumatised as we speak, and we are doing our level best to bring her back home.”