by Tam’sanqa Mhepoh | @ndebeleshona | Animation
by Tam’sanqa Mhepoh | @ndebeleshona | Animation
Sexual harassment is against the law and each tertiary institution is obliged by the Zimbabwean constitution to create a safe campus for its students.’ Below are some steps you can take if you’re / you have experienced sexual harassment on campus.
by Tam’sanqa Mhepoh | @ndebeleshona | List / How-to
Ultimately, if no action motivates your college to adequately address sexual harassment you’ve experienced, or if you believe a school enables a culture of harassment, you can sue the institution. Sometimes just the threat of legal action can compel schools to act more rigorously to redress past or continuing sexual harassment.
Article curated from www.study.com Original piece here http://study.com/articles/How_to_Address_Sexual_Harassment_on_Campus.html
by Tam’sanqa Mhepoh | @ndebeleshona | Opinion
‘Sexually transmitted grades‘, ‘a thigh for a mark’, ‘transaction relationships’ and ‘blessers.’These terms are synonymous with an ‘underground’ culture prevailing in Zimbabwean colleges nowadays.
While this culture is not anything new, these trending terms tell a new story altogether.
The story is that; only lip service has been paid to an existing problem.
News media reveal that HIV prevalence among young women in colleges has risen just as much as sexual abuse. Government must formulate a standard HIV and Sexual Harassment policy to manage a growing problem in tertiary institutions.
I doubt that the rise in sexual harassment cases to 78 percent is isolated from the rise in HIV prevalence to 4.1 percent in young women aged 15-24. It cannot be a coincidence for both to occur simultaneously.
A 2015 UNAIDS Global Aids Report cited that sexual intercourse with older men exposes this age group to partners who are more likely to be HIV positive and also hold power in the relationship.
Clearly, there is no doubt that young women are vulnerable to Sexually Transmitted Infections and Sexual Harassment whilst they are in college.
It is therefore imperative that the government, through the Ministry of Higher Education formulates a policy that will discourage students from dating individuals their who hold positions of authority in institutions.
Since universities are adult learning institutions, I acknowledge that genuinely consensual relations do develop between students and staff.
However, there is no doubt that there are also predatory staff members harassing or exploiting students and even younger or more junior colleagues.
According to the Female Students Network Survey, about 78 percent of students revealed that they had been offered handsome marks in return for sexual intercourse by their lectures.
Sadly, most students do not realize such offers as sexual harassment, and sometimes they give in, leading to an array of physical, psychological and emotional problems.
Even though tertiary institutions are semi-autonomous, it is the Ministry’s responsibility to lead student affairs departments in coming up with policies to protect students.
Whilst appreciating that every institution is unique in culture, the Ministry of Higher Education should, in consultation with civil society and all tertiary institutions in Zimbabwe, come with standard procedures for handling,reporting cases and supporting victims of abuse.
Researchers at the African Gender Institute in 2006 defined the meaning of ‘policy implementation’ as people’s awareness and understanding of the policy.
Such is achieved through analysis of reported cases, and through people’s “levels of satisfaction” with the policy – their perceptions on how it contributed to a better working or academic climate.
A standard policy would help to ensure uniformity in managing Sexual Harassment cases across the country.
It would also make the implementation of the Sexual Harassment and HIV prevention policy more effective. In turn Zimbabwe would be poised to achieve the gender equality target by 2030.
Students who purposefully engage in romantic encounters with university staff say they are driven by poverty.
“Sex is just a small price to pay for all the material things I get out of this relationship,” said Lisa Mangena(not her real name), a senior student at a local university.
Nevertheless, is it ethical behavior for a lecturer to bed his student? Your guess is as good as mine!
While students and their lecturers are ‘consenting adults’ and their relationships appear acceptable, the truth is such acts fall under the broad category of sexual harassment.
by Tam’sanqa Mhepoh | @ndebeleshona | Feature
A LECTURER is involved in a romantic relationship with a student. The teaching assistant gets a date with a student as payment for accepting late submission of an assignment. A fellow male student repeatedly sends sexually loaded multi-media and jokes to a female counterpart’s WhatsApp inbox.
So what? Aren’t universities and colleges adult learning institutions? Can’t students take an ‘adult’ joke?
While students and their lecturers are ‘consenting adults’ and their relationships appear acceptable, the truth is such acts fall under the broad category of sexual harassment. Unwanted actions, verbal or physical of a sexual nature may appear minor but can create an uncomfortable or even hostile learning environment.
Hope Nguni*, a student at the National University of Science and Technology was engulfed with emotion when she narrated her story.
Tears filled her eyes.
Nguni’s lecturer had been making sexual advances at her.
Despite having been turned down countless, the lecturer continued to pester Nguni until she could not bear it anymore.
He became hostile towards her and to save herself the aggression, she had to shelve her studies for a while.
“I ended up completing a four year degree in six years because of that situation,” said Nguni.
According to a survey done by Female Students Network Trust (FSN), 98% of female students have experienced sexual harassment mainly by their lecturers who use final exam marking as a tool to force them to give in to their demands.
Speaking during a dialogue meeting in Harare, FSN director Evernice Munando said a number of students have been sexually harassed.
“The statistics are shocking. Female students are suffering at the hands of their male lecturers who promise them passes in exchange of sexual favours. But this has to end. The female students should come out and report these matters to the police. It is high time we put an end to this,” Munando said.
According to the survey, apart from the lecturers, non-academic staff like security guards and other students at tertiary learning institutions are also sexually harassing female students.
[*Not her real name ]
by Tam’sanqa Mhepoh | @ndebeleshona | News Analysis
22 years after preliminary research categorically stated that policies and grievance procedures for those who are sexually harassed be designed, survey data by the Female Students Network in 2016 showed that only 5 out of more than 20 tertiary institutions had sexual harassment policies.
Analysts and commentators said that this lack of sexual harassment policies and poor implementation in the paltry sum of all tertiary institutions where they exist is directly linked to the widespread victimisation of students.
“If it’s not written, it’s not there – If there is no policy, that means there is no framework for prevention,” said Jephiter Tsamwi, an Information and Advocacy Officer at Students and Youth Working on Reproductive Health Action Team (SAYWHAT).
Furthermore, the Information Advocacy expert reiterated that policy usually comes with programs for knowledge and awareness on sexual harassment. Hence, a lack of policy / ineffective implementation translates into a lack of / poor cognition of such kind of abuse, procedures for reporting and strategies for disciplinary action against perpetrators and mitigation for victims.
Another commentator, Costa Nkomo, the National University of Science and Technology Students Union Legal Representative, said, “the absence of policy to deal with sexual harassment makes colleges limitless with regard to sexual behaviour and widens sexual assault in the constituency.”
A Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights practitioner, Unoziba Tenga, who works with a Bulawayo based non-governmental organisation whose mission is to promote sexual health and wellness in young people explained that “Victims do not speak out because of feelings of helplessness heightened by ignorance of the procedures to reporting abuse, which should otherwise be clearly communicated in policy,”
“Sexual harassment policies, where they exist, are not being communicated to students from day one,” added Tenga.
Data from a 2017 report presented at the Bulawayo Polytechnic 3rd Annual Research Conference early this month showed that 70 percent of sexual harassment cases largely go unreported because they happen behind closed doors and in most cases, victims do not know where or how to seek redress.
Mrs Eugenia Takavarasha, a lecturer at Hillside Teachers College who presented the findings as reported by the Chronicle, said, “Students blame colleges for lack of proper management of such matters with only 30 percent of them agreeing to report to administration although they rarely yield solutions. Only major cases such as attempted rape and rape were otherwise reported.”
Takavarasha added that the 70 percent of students indicated that they do not report sexual harassment because cases are usually referred to the police who subject the victim to inhuman interrogation.
Nevertheless, “Sexual harassment in colleges can be curbed more effectively if the Ministry of Higher Education in consultation with civil society formulated a standardised policy on the issue,” Tsamwi said. “This would ensure uniformity in disciplinary action and psycho-social support for offenders and victims respectively.”
However, an official in the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education at Mhlahlandlela government complex, Mr Gonye, defended government citing that tertiary institutions are semi-autonomous and “therefore each one is responsible for their own students and issues that affect them.”
Meanwhile, analysts and commentators remained resolute that the parent ministry of these institutions and its stakeholders in the field should take full responsibility for their perpetual oblivion on the extent of sexual harassment in the system.
Nkomo worried that the widespread lack of sexual of sexual harassment policies, and the mediocre ones enacted in a few tertiary institutions showed that university authorities did not truly care about the welfare of their students.
“It is very sad for an academic institution to operate without a single policy that speaks directly to the protection of student rights, sexual rights being the apex of all of them,” Nkomo said.
Tenga suggested that sexual harassment in Zimbabwe’s tertiary institutions is not viewed as an important issue, hence the little progress in policy formulation and implementation.
Tsamwi observed that,“The lack of sexual harassment policies for decades shows that student affairs arms of tertiary institutions are not putting enough energy into this issue.”
Furthermore, Tsamwi added that it was “sad” that numerous studies and reports on sexual harassment in the country, from as far back as Dr Fred Zindi’s research in 1994 “seemed to have fallen on deaf ears.”
“The ministry of higher education is to blame, all of civil society working with tertiary institutions are to blame because they have failed to flag the challenge on the lack of sexual harassment policies in Zimbabwe’s citadels of knowledge,” said Tenga.
by Tam’sanqa Mhepoh |@ndebeleshona | Inforgraphic
“a journey of a thousand miles begins with a first step…”
– Lao Tzu
Sexual Harassment has been in the news again over the month of February. Citing a baseline survey conducted by the Female Students Network of Zimbabwe published in 2016, reports say that about 74 percent of female students in the country’s tertiary institutions have been victims of this abuse. The culprits are male lecturers, male non academic staff and male students.
What is disturbing though is that since 1994, Zimbabwe’s centers of higher learning have been reported to be a hotbed of sexual harassment, yet there are still no policies to address the issue at most of the country’s Polytechnics, Teachers’ colleges and universities. Sadly, the victims do not recognize instances of abuse in some cases. Pointedly, that just says citizens are ignorant of what exactly sexual harassment is.
This blog post will clarify what exactly constitutes sexual harassment. As the Chinese say, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a first step. This post should then serve as a precursor to your own endeavor to alleviate sexual harassment in Zimbabwe’s colleges by increasing your awareness of this problem in the various forms and intensity in which it manifests.