Last week, the end of the week news focused on an event that occurred on the University of Ghana Campus. An alleged female thief was captured, undressed and sexually molested by students who also filmed the process. Fellow bloggers such as Trotro Drama, Daixy, and CriticalPoint were leading the debate on blogs and on Twitter.
Just as these bloggers, the most publicized views of this event – online, on radio, TV and in print media were that this was unacceptable and maybe a sign of a malicious culture of sexualized violence and mob justice.
However, as clearly as this molestation was a grave criminal offense and should be handled by the police, nowhere I heard any reference to the newly instated Sexual Harassment policy on campus which is supposed to regulate and prohibit the “smaller” instances of uninvited sexual advances. Today, University World News runs a feature article I wrote on the UG sexual harassment policy, if you are interested to know more about this progressive piece regulation. Also see the excerpt below. Clearly, it needs to be publicized more!
“It will take hard work to implement the policy,” she (prof. Tsikata, head of CEGENSA, the body that developed the policy) said. “It will take time to institute confidence in the process, faith in the system. There is a reluctance to come forward, rather than a problem of frivolous cases”.
In the policy document, sexual harassment is defined as “unwelcomed sexual advances, or unwelcome requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct or behaviour of a sexual nature”.
Illustrations of this definition can be persistent propositions for dates, sexual jokes, passing on pornographic material, comments about someone’s body etc. The policy is applicable to all members of the university community.
The implementation of this policy means that many things (mainly) women in Ghana see as “daily hurdles” can now be reported, at least if they happen on the University of Ghana campus. In my opinion, it is a start on a very long and winding road.
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