Fungai Lupande Mashonaland Central Bureau
OVER 75 percent of female students in tertiary institutions are being sexually harassed and the chief culprits are male lecturers, Female Students’ Network Trust executive director Mrs Evernice Munando has revealed.
Speaking at the launch of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence at Bindura University of Science Education last week, Mrs Munando said the absence of a sexual harassment policy in tertiary institutions had fuelled the vice and cowed victims from reporting.
“We have gathered to mark the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence,” she said.
“We know that the national launch will be on November 25, but because of the rise in sexual harassment cases in tertiary institutions we saw it fit to gather today before our students sit for their examinations,” she said.
“We are saddened by the increase in sexual harassment cases in tertiary institutions. Over 75 percent of female students face sexual harassment in tertiary institutions and most of the perpetrators are professors.
“We are raising awareness among students on what constitutes sexual harassment and the nation at large that sexual harassment must stop. Our students should be allowed to learn in peace.
“Some of them are committing suicide, falling pregnant or contracting sexually transmitted diseases while others are dropping out of school due to sexual harassment.
“Government must make sure that tertiary institutions have sexual harassment policies because even in the Constitution sexual harassment has been trivialised. It is not something that can be challenged in court.”
Guest of honour Inspector Barbra Rumbidzai Munyanyi said sexual harassment was not limited to females only, but also affected male students.
She urged institutions to consider investing in training staff in promoting healthier and safe environments for students.
“Sexual harassment is a subject that victims are not comfortable to talk about because of the stigma associated with it,” said Insp Munyanyi.
“It is important to empower students to advocate for each other to speak up and act to protect themselves against this evil practice.
“I would like to congratulate Bindura University of Science Education for having a sexual harassment policy in place.
“I would also like to commend Female Students’ Network and other organisations here present for continually working to empower young people fight gender based violence.”