AT least 74 percent of female students in tertiary institutions have been subjected to s_exual harassment by male lecturers, non-academic staff and security guards in return for higher marks, access to the campus and food, legislators heard yesterday.
Female Students’ Network Trust programme director Mrs Evernice Munando said a baseline survey conducted by her organisation showed that 85 percent of respondents knew of students who aborted unintended pregnancy while at campus.
Mrs Munando said this while giving oral evidence before the parliamentary portfolio committee on Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development chaired by Goromonzi West MP Beata Nyamupinga.
The survey was conducted in 2015 in universities, polytechnics and teachers’ training colleges covering 10 institutions that included 3 425 students and staff.
“It confirmed the students’ claims that gender based violence and s_exual harassment were rampant on campus, particularly s_exual harassment of female students by male lecturers, fellow male students, non-academic male employees and security guards,” said Mrs Munando.
She said the environment at Midlands State University in Gweru exposed students to abuse, particularly given the fact that accommodation was not only scarce, but expensive.
“We are worried with MSU where there are also various campuses that expose students to harassment,” said Mrs Munando. “There is Zvishavane campus where there are miners who might prey on them.
“There is need for s_exual harassment policies in order to create a safe learning environment for the girl child. Only four institutions had a s_exual harassment policy in place and the fifth one had a draft. We realised that in religion-based institutions, it was difficult for female students to report issues on s_exual harassment because of how it was interpreted in terms of their religion.”
Mrs Munando called for clear and enforceable s_exual harassment policies such as subjecting perpetrators to disciplinary action at the tertiary institutions.
Giving an outline on the baseline survey, FSN programme officer, Ms Yvone Mudapakati said of the 2 114 female students who participated through the questionnaire, 94 percent reported having encountered s_exual harassment compared to three percent of the 672 male students.
Source : ZIM News