Original Research - Special Collection: Youth marginalisation as a faith-based concern

Sexual violence against children and youth: Exploring the role of congregations in addressing the protection of young girls on the Cape Flats

Shantelle Weber, Nadine Bowers-DuToit
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 74, No 3 | a5089 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v74i3.5089 | © 2018 Shantelle Weber, Nadine Bowers-DuToit | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 May 2018 | Published: 12 November 2018

About the author(s)

Shantelle Weber, Department of Practical Theology and Missiology, Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Nadine Bowers-DuToit, Department of Practical Theology and Missiology, Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa


The Children’s Institute, a research arm of the University of Cape Town, reports that 18.5 million children live in South Africa. The institute’s vision is for ‘A society in which children are valued, nurtured and protected; their rights are realised; and where they are able to participate, develop and reach their full potential’. A quick scan of South African newspaper headlines, however, reflects numerous accounts of the abduction, rape and murder of young girls on the Cape Flats in Cape Town, South Africa, during 2016–2017. This seems to confirm the statistic that one in three children is a victim of sexual violence and physical abuse before the age of 18. Sadly, many of these instances are alleged to have been linked to a family member or close family friend. Some have even been linked to Christian church contexts. This article explores this unacceptable rise in violence against these young girls and from this vantage point continues to more specifically reflect on the role congregations can play in such instances. The article argues that such abuse takes place within an ecosystem of violence and then considers how the trauma of such an experience has affected the faith formation of these young girls. The article, furthermore, highlights the recent publication entitled ‘Children, Church and the Law’, which calls for the establishment of church policy on the protection of children in our local congregations and communities as one preventative and educative tool in addressing this issue.


Children; youth; violence; abuse; Cape Flats


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