Sexual Harassment Policy – Can It Stop Sexual Assaults at Uni of Ghana?

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.

Read the whole article here. Find the policy in full on University of Ghana’s website here (not available yet). UPDATE: Pdf download of the policy.

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.

What do you think?

Ninety-Nine-Year-Old Graduate and More

Recently a World War II veteran and former teacher reached headline news in Ghana (and the world through CNN) as he graduated from business school at the ripe age of ninety-nine!

I wrote an article about this very special ninety-nine year old graduate and the discussion that his achievement gave rise to for University World News(UWN). Here is an excerpt:

In February 99-year-old World War II veteran and former teacher, Akasease Kofi Boakye Yiadom, graduated from the Presbyterian University College Business School in Abetifi, Ghana.

The elderly graduate was featured on CNN’s Inside Africa programme, and he took the opportunity to call on fellow graduates to be loyal and not join the brain drain.

“If it is a scant pay you have to accept it, because it is the government’s money that has been used to educate you,” he said. “If you have finished school and passed your degree, you have to stay in Ghana and serve Ghana.”

I thought it was interesting he entered into the “brain-drain” debate and did something with his 15 minutes of fame. Read the rest of the article about Akasease Yiadom and the “brain-drain” discussion by yours truly.

In the same issue of UWN, Linda Nordling wrote an interesting feature directed to African universities on diversifying funding. She compared the recent consequences of the Icelandic volcano ash on African export industry to the current situation in African academe where African universities are very dependent on student fees and government funding. What if an “ash cloud” or more likely an economical crisis would reduce fees and government funding?

There needs to be a lateral, more diversified strategy for funding of the African universities. Looking overseas for funding instruments, reducing the administrative burden through capacity building and turning to local industry to offer consultancies are the main points offered as a solution, by Nordling. Read the whole insightful article Lateral Thinking for Research Funding.

Short Week

Soon I am off to work. I teach Mon-Wed so when Monday is a holiday, my week becomes really short. Also after this short week the mid semester break comes on. Still, I’m sure I’ll make myself busy. One of the things I am doing this week is to finish up an article I am writing for University World News on sexual harassment in universities in Ghana or “sex for grades” as it has been described in media recently (for instance here and here).

If you have opinions or information on that topic, don’t hesitate to comment below.

Now I will start my short week!

>Academic Conference in Ghana: Revisiting Modernization

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Today, I visited the official opening of an academic conference, Revisiting Modernization, which is organized as a collaboration between Institute of African Studies at University of Ghana and University of California. I am covering the conference for University World News, will post the article in this space once it is done.

Not only does the conference have a very interesting program – it is open to the public. I am especially recommending their evening programs, the standard was set tonight with a superb dance performance (again a Ghana-US collaboration), tomorrow we can look forward to an art exhibit and on Wednesday a film screening with films such as Baby Ghana, one of the first films recorded in this country!

The conference is the first in a series of three planned in Africa. After this one comes Senegal in 2011 and South Africa in 2013!

Also mentioned in the blogosphere here and here.

>On Private Universities in Ghana and Africa

> Did you know that private higher education in on the rise in Ghana and Africa?

Read about why and what consequences it is having on Ghana in my feature article in University World News – a newsletter about global and local academic trends.

You can subscribe to the African version of the informative newsletter here.

Picture of a sculpture of a graduate from a public Ghanaian university, University of Ghana just outside of Accra. Photo: Kerstin Alm