Regional: Sexual harassment in institutions of higher learning

Regional: Sexual harassment in institutions of higher learning

Date: December 6, 2012
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Nine journalism and media education and training institutions of higher learning from across Southern Africa participated in a Sixteen days of Actvism cyber dialogue on sexual harassment. They discussed one area of gender violence that is sexual harassment in institutions..

The seminar topic was informed by the 2010 Gender in Media Education (GIME) research findings. The study noted “intimidation of members of staff and students in academic communities has been a growing area of concern…” According to the study, sexual harassment “includes verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, sexual advances and requests for sexual favours is based on the use of sexual inequality to maintain or reinforce power structures in the workplace or universities.” The research further found that, 11 of the 25 institutions that took part in the study then had sexual harassment policies.

According to an article published by Sheena Magenya titled Southern Africa: “Sexually Transmitted Marks” – who is to blame?”,it is alleged by students that lecturers do solicit sexual favours from students in exchange for better academic pass marks in their respective courses.

The face-to-face discussions created a platform for students, trainers and registrars to discuss this issue openly. The registrars informed the students how the institutions deal with sexual harassment issues. Students and media trainers had an opportunity to interact with their colleagues from across the SADC region through cyber dialogues. While students blamed the lecturers for soliciting sex for marks from learners, the trainers argued that students are also equally to blame on this issue.

As part of this sexual harassment, GL’s Opinion and Commentary Service published an article titled Lesotho: Sexual harassment a reality in universities.” Click here to read a French article on a lecturer’s perspective on the issue.

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