The International Federation Of Women Lawyers’ (FIDA-Ghana) has waded into the ‘Sex for Grades’ brouhaha, saying sexual harassment is gender-based violence and a violation of the human rights of girls and women.
The BBC Africa Eye ‘Sex for Grades’ documentary exposes sexual harassment of female students by the lecturers in the University of Lagos, Nigeria; and University of Ghana (UG).
Prof. Ransford Gyampo and Dr. Paul Butakor, both senior lecturers of UG were captured in the documentary making love proposals to two undercover female journalists who posed as students.
UG has since interdicted the two lecturers.
But FIDA-Ghana in a statement said sexual harassment and misconduct is also criminal and is captured in the Criminal Offences Act as indecent assault which is defined as the act where “a person without the consent of the other person, forcibly makes any sexual bodily contact with that other person; or sexually violates the body of that other person in any manner not amounting to carnal knowledge or unnatural carnal knowledge”.
For far too long, it said, the issue of sexual harassment has been at best sidelined and at worst silenced by individuals and institutions.
“It is now time to talk about the open secrets that plague students on campus to challenge cultures of entitlement in our institutions and to stop abuse of power in our schools and places of employment,” it noted.
It added that “the reality though is that sexual harassment by teachers start quite early in the basic education institutions; continue in secondary and tertiary institutions and goes on in the workplace.”
The statement noted that “the effect of sexual harassment and misconduct in the academic and professional lives of women has in most situations denied women of their rightful places of merit and contributed to the huge gender gaps in education and the workplace, thus the need for the Affirmative Action Law.”
“FIDA-Ghana applauds BBC for this expose and the University of Ghana for taking this matter seriously by interdicting the lecturers captured in the video to investigate this serious issue.”
It said “i is now time for women who have been sexually harassed in school and employment to come out with their experiences in order to raise awareness of these despicable acts,” it noted.
“Being mindful of the possibility of being stigmatised for speaking out, FIDA Ghana would like to inform the public of its Gender-Based Violence Reporting website email@example.com which was launched last year.”
“This platform provides opportunity for victims of violence to report such acts on our website whilst providing a trained lawyer to attend to their legal needs.”