General News of Thursday, 9 March 2017
Some female students of the University of Ghana, led by the Women Commission of the school’s Representative Council (SRC), is proposing that authorities of the school publish on its website and in the dailies, the full details male lecturers who sexually abuse female students.
According to them, sexual harassment and misconduct on campus has become a growing trend, but students do not report such cases for fear of victimization.
At the ‘Speak Up Conference’ organized by the Commission on International Women’s Day, students who have been sexually abused by lecturers shared their sad stories.
Sexually exploitative behaviour, conferring undue favours to influence subordinate staff or students to yield to sexual desires and amorous behaviour between students and teaching staff, are some of the sexual misconducts that the statutes of the University frowns upon.
But Yaa Gyamfua, an executive of the SRC Women’s Commission, believes these rules are often flouted by the very people trusted to uphold it, including the lecturers.
As a result, she said most victims for fear of being victimized, do not report such cases.
“What abuse takes away from you is your dignity; so then you don’t even have much of it left to be going around talking about it in the first place. That accounts for a lot of the reasons why you don’t hear about it (sexual abuse). But truly it happens, a lot of it happens” she stated.
According to her, “For a number of ladies who have approached us, it’s mostly between authorities and students.” Touching on some other cases of abuse on campus, Gyamfua recalled that “somewhere last semester, someone was raped in between the annexes of Sarbah (Mensah Sarbah Hall) one night when she went to study.
Another happened at Athletics Oval some time ago. We just woke up and saw that her clothes had been torn and her panties were left there. I don’t think the girl as at now has been able to show up and report.”
The Chairperson of the Anti-Sexual Harassment Committee of the University, Prof. Abena Oduro, gave the assurance that female students at the Conference that the University had demoted some lecturers for sexually abusing female students in the past; and will crack the whip on deviant lecturers found culpable.
But the Commission is not satisfied by this assurance.
Yaa Gyamfua insists that publishing the full details of deviant lecturers will be deterrent enough to their colleagues in the act.
“When you choose to abuse someone and take away the person’s dignity, then you don’t get to keep yours. So, as and when it happens, I think that we should be able to hear of it. If possible it should be published on the University’s website which will be more shameful, the dailies, as well as the notice boards.”
“We need to know who the perpetrators are. They don’t do it with just one of two people; it’s done to a number of girls. So the publicity alone gives closure to the other girls who are involved perhaps with the same lecturer. Closure in abuse is important for the person to heal. The University should be able to tell us how many lecturers are laid off as and when these things happen. So that we can reduce the rate at which these things happen. I am telling you on authority that it happens almost every day.”
But a final year Political Science major student (name withheld) disagrees with the call. For her, demotion is enough as she fears the stigma affected lecturers will suffer.
“First of all, they wouldn’t be happy if they are demoted. And secondly, I don’t think their details should be put out there because it remains forever. People will get to see it, their children, forever! And it will be out there for everyone and generations to come. I am not sure it will go away. It will be like some kind of stigma not forgetting that the girls could suffer some kind of psychological effects from the harassments they get from these lecturers. But I don’t think that is the right thing to do. Demotion is just perfect, but putting their names out there for me is too much.”
Even though she told Citi News a lecturer at her department has been on her heels since her level 100 days for an amorous relationship, she believes most female students only cry foul after such amorous relationships with their lecturers turn sour, arguing that no lecturer will ever fail any student for denying him sexual gratification.
“If you had no relationship whatsoever with the lecturer and he just comes after you for the first time, you are in the best position to tell him off and nothing is going to happen to you. But the problem is some of the time if not most of the times, you’d find out that the students could have had some amorous relationships with their lecturers; and when things go sour, they come out to say a lecturer harassed them.”