Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Good Sexual Harassment Policy: poor implementation
The release of Sexual harassment policy by the Gender Mainstreaming Department of Makerere University was received in great joy by the University community especially the female students and female workers/staff.

This pushes Makerere University to become the first University in Africa, to have a sexual harassment policy that is to check the alleged rampant sexual violations at the University.

Makerere University Anti Sexual Harassment Committee, headed by the University Vice Chancellor, Prof. Livingstone Luboobi, believes that sexual harassment is a negation of reciprocal respect and a violation of the fundamental rights, dignity and integrity of the person that undermines the required learning environment, dissemination of knowledge, research and productive work.

With a definition of Sexual harassment as unwelcoming sexual advances, requests for sexual favours or unwanted physical and verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature; the policy affirms that the complaints are to be treated with diligence, fairness and justice.

The policy suggests the employment of the following means to ensure that the objectives are met:- adopting and implementation of the policy and its guidelines, sensitization programs, launching of hotlines for reporting cases, establishment of gender-responsive monitoring and evaluation framework, integration of sexual harassment into the curriculum of compulsory course unit on ethics for all students, equiping members of the university community with skills and tools to defend themselves against sexual harassment and lastly setting up of Anti-sexual harassment committees (senate level and unit level) to handle complaints of sexual harassments.

In addition to the above, sexual harassment becomes prohibitive for both on-campus and off-campus University settings between and among students, academic staff, administrative staff, support staff and staff members of various categories.

The convicted persons will faces punishment or combination of punishment like written warning, transfer, demotion, dismissal, suspension, ordered to compensate the aggrieved party or ordered to give a public apology to the aggrieved party.

Many female students in colleges can hardly speak about there sexual harassment that suffocates them. For instance, even if a female student is being raped in one of the male hall and she shouts, fellow students might think that they are having fun and the matter will be forgotten.

On a talk with one of the female students, she told me that some female students are sexually assaulted by lecturers but they fail to report the cases because they don’t want to be ‘embarrassed’ or a times their future might be spoilt since the lectures determine what you become.

In Africa, sexual harassment cases have not been taken seriously by police, administration or termination of cases by courts with claims of insufficient evidences.

So far, the policy has drawn impossibilities on the implementation level. I concur with Maria Gorette Karuhanga, a human rights lawyer who admits that though the policy sends an important message, enforcing the policy is problematic.

The policy lacks a proper framework of implementing it both on-campus and off-campus University settings. This proves that it is just good paper that needs some changes for it to be effective.
posted by ombui at 7:13 AM | Permalink | 3 comments