Contemporary and Social Issues

Sexual Violence in British Schools: How Do We Stop It?


Munavara Ghauri, UK

As I was covering the reception desk for a colleague in the local boys’ grammar school where I work, a BBC reporter rang. He wanted a comment regarding the sexual violence that occurs in British schools and how our particular school was educating its 1,000 male students. His enquiry was instigated by the recent exposure of abuse against girls and the ‘rape culture’ that appears shockingly ubiquitous in UK schools and universities. This has become evident after the #Everyone’s Invited website – began by a female student from a private school in London, to record personal testimonies of sexual harassment by girls – was inundated. These harrowing testimonies doubled overnight to more than 10,000 in a day. [1] The website is meant to be ‘an anti-rape movement organisation based in the United Kingdom’ which hopes to expose this terrible culture. [2]

The issue is highly sensitive and when I asked the Pastoral Officer at my school whether she wanted to speak to the BBC reporter, she declined, and asked me to refer him to the Headmaster. The school where I work is a Church of England school with a good ethos. The boys are encouraged to behave well, work hard, and engage in team sports in their spare-time. The teachers are encouraged to be respectful to the boys and often collectively address them as ‘gentlemen’ in class. This is the first year that girls have been admitted to the school in Sixth Form (for A-level studies) to help alleviate the financial pressures on the school. However, the addition of female pupils will inevitably add to the complexity of issues the school will now face.

So, how do we prevent the reported misogyny, harassment and assaults on female students in UK schools? It is shocking that schools such as the prestigious Eton College and St. Paul’s Boys School, London, where school fees can be an eye-watering £42,000 per annum, are where this insidious ‘rape culture’ was initially exposed. My own son attended the school where I work.  He had two ‘Consent’ sessions with a visiting expert to the school in Year 11 (age 15-16). It was aimed to educate the boys about how they must never force themselves upon girls. However, to think that two or three hours with a stranger was enough to morally educate my son and others, would be completely naïve.

Personally, I feel that the first and foremost responsibility of morally educating children about such issues lies with parents or guardians. In fact, from an Islamic perspective, the good upbringing of children begins even earlier. The Holy Prophet (sa) of Islam, taught couples at the very early stage when they are only contemplating conceiving a child, to pray:

In the name of Allah, O Allah, save us from Satan and save the progeny that You grant us, from the evil of Satan.’ [3]   

The importance of praying for righteous children is emphasised in the Holy Qur’an itself, the book which Muslims consider to be the revealed Word of God. In it, two prophets of God are recounted as praying for pious progeny. Prophet Abraham (as) prayed, ‘My Lord, Grant me a righteous son’ [4] and Prophet Zachariah (as), a contemporary of Mariam (as) (Mary), supplicated ‘My Lord, grant me from Thyself pure offspring.’ [5] The potency of these prayers was demonstrated when Abraham (as) was blessed with two sons who were prophets, Ishmael (as) and Isaac (as), whilst Zachariah (as) was blessed with the virtuous Yahya (as), known as John the Baptist in the Christian faith.

Regarding the current crisis of abuse within schools and universities, Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, the secondary school head teachers’ union, said that schools alone were not to blame for such behaviour:

‘…this is a wider issue than what happens in schools. Parents have a responsibility to talk to their children about how they behave…Social media companies have a responsibility to take more care about how their platforms are used. The criminal justice system has a responsibility to show young people that it can be trusted to prosecute…’ [6]

Such opinions concur with the guidance given by the Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba), on numerous occasions. He has advised mothers to invest a lot of time in their children, ‘As a mother, a woman has a stronger bond with her children’, [7] and to instil a belief in God and ‘the seed of worship’ in them. It is only then, that children begin to feel accountable for their actions to a Supreme Being or Creator. His Holiness (aba) has also made the key point that mothers should be at home for their children when they return from school, at least in their early years. His Holiness (aba) has observed:

‘When children return from school, they should find a peaceful and loving environment at home. If we look around ourselves, the reason a large number of children go astray is because they are deprived of their parents’ love…They need attention, the like of which is not given by their parents. The parents are occupied in the rat race of accumulating wealth, and in satisfying their own interests.’ [8] 

Throughout the schooling of my children, I have attempted to personally do the school pick-ups and provide my children home-cooked meals, even in their moodier and monosyllabic teen years! I believe that it is this time that I have given to my son alongside his sisters, which is more likely to dictate his behaviour with his female peers as opposed to any sessions with an education specialist.  

Social Media also has a lot to answer for in terms of children’s behaviour and may encourage sexual violence, if left unfiltered. It is an ongoing battle for parents, but they must remain vigilant and monitor their children’s activity on the Internet. Furthermore, the sexual abuse that has been perpetrated by male students in our most elite schools in the UK, illustrates that throwing money at children does not necessarily transform them into worthy individuals. Instead, it is the time and care that parents give children, alongside prayers, that can work miracles.    

About the Author: Munavara Ghauri BA (Hons) Eng Lit, is married with 3 children and works as a School Librarian. She is currently serving as the Branch Leader for the Bournemouth Women’s Auxiliary Organization of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and is an Editor for the Women’s Section of The Review of Religions.




[3] Prayers, Compiled by Hafiz Muzaffar Ahmad, Trans Bushra Ishrat Sheikh, 2013, p.106 

[4] The Holy Qur’an, 37:101

[5] The Holy Qur’an, 3:39 

[6] THE TIMES, Wed March 31, 2021, p.7

[7] Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V (aba), Domestic Issues and their Solutions, Islam International Publications Ltd, 2018, p.207

[8] Ibid, pp.208-209