Sexual abuse and harassment is alive and well in schools in Ghana today. Although students on both side of the gender divide have been victims of sexual harassment, females tend to suffer this type of harassment more than their male counterpart. Young women at almost every level of the academic ladder are at risk of being victims of sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment dates back to several decades and has been allowed to fester for far too long. Every young woman is a potential victim regardless of their social status, religion, tribe, race or academic prowess. All it takes is for a predator to decide they want to make you a victim.
Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. The acceptance or refusal of such conduct is used as the basis or a factor in decisions affecting an individual’s employment, education, living environment, or participation in a university community.
Most people in the academic community are aware of this problem but turn a blind eye to it. Almost every student knows a female colleague that has been or is being sexually harassed by a teacher or lecturer but can not take any action to help them. I have witnessed first hand a teacher touch another student inappropriately in public without any regard for her person. Usually, this behaviour is perpetuated under the guise of an ‘ I am playing with you’ tactic to masked the seriousness of the act.
Can sexual harassment be avoided? No, it can’t be avoided. Every student is a potential victim regardless of who they are, how they dressed or marital status. There is nothing anyone can do to avoid being a victim of sexual harassment.
The real question is, how do we as a society end this menace? Victims must be encouraged to report to the appropriate authorities. Suffering in silence will only embolden the perpetrator to continue in such an act. The academic community must also investigate and rid our educational system of such characters who perpetrate such crime with impunity. Furthermore, perpetrators must be named and shamed to serve as a deterrent to others. School environment must be made safe for every student and not a place to get harassed daily for sex.