May 25 is Gender Equality Day
‘Is it normal to slap your girlfriend?
To check her phone?
And what if she wants to check your phone?’
These are questions, 17-year-old Paulo Silva asks his male classmates of the Ferreira Alves secondary school in Valadares, northern Portugal as part of a collaborative European study on teenage love and violence.
‘If boys have more privileges and sexual freedom in relationships than girls, there will be more social pressure to behave accordingly: strong, determined and protective’, reveals 18-year-old Catarina Machado. ‘We – both students and teachers –should be more alert, when we notice that one of us is eager to control the clothing and contacts of his loved one.’
‘These themes have to be discussed openly in school to avoid the reproduction of stereotype behavior’, adds Isabel Menezes – psychologist at the University of Porto – also referring to a nationwide study under 15-year-old high school students of which two-thirds already had experienced intimate relationships. Nearly half of them believed that impeding the partner wearing certain clothes is not violence and one-fourth considered it normal, to force schoolmates to kiss in public.
He grabbed a glass, put it on my throat and said: ‘I just feel like killing you ‘
In a national survey among university students more than half stated to be victims of dating violence. Some were even threatened with death.
One-third of the students admitted being engaged in violent behavior themselves.
Twenty percent of the girls said to be ‘controlled about what to wear and where to go’ and one in ten declared to be forced into undesirable sex.
‘Young people don’t understand the complexity of violence in intimate relations’, explains Sofia Neves, coordinator of the study and president of the Observatory of Dating Violence, that received 128 complaints from – mostly female- students last year. Physical and psychological aggression, stalking and sexual abuse was most frequently reported, occurring often more than once. The cause is usually jealousy, whether or not in combination with alcohol. In only a few cases were offenses reported to the authorities but measures are seldom taken.
‘Raising awareness through information is crucial and should be started in school, at an early age’, concludes Sofia Neves. ‘To prevent violent relationships later on.’
Bom fim de semana Enjoy the weekend (pic Publico/Sapo)