The Centre for Gender Research, Advocacy and Documentation (CEGRAD) has organised a two-day workshop on the Sexual Harassment .
The Coordinator, Advocacy & Outreach, Dr. Georgina Yaa Oduro, indicated that the workshop was to deliberate and brainstorm on matters relating to ‘Sexual Harassment’ and the ‘Sexual Harassment Policy’ of the University.
Sexual Harassment Policy
Taking the participants through the institutional Sexual Harassment Policy, Prof. Nancy Lundgren, pointed out that any unwelcome sexual advances or request for sexual favours and other verbal or physical conduct of sexual nature whether once or repeatedly must be avoided regardless of the person involved and the place where which it might occur. She said a decent interpersonal relationship at the workplace and school foster a good output, therefore, the vulnerable staff or students needed not to be harassed by his/her superior such as boss, lecturer, man or woman. Advising the Sexual Harassment Committee, she added that reports and procedures to handling cases as well as victims ought to be treated with confidentiality. Again, she added that the implementation of the comprehensive sexual harassment policy would help facilitate the Sexual Harassment Committee’s procedures to fast-track sexually harassed issues and concerns.
Causes of Sexual Harassment
The immediate past Director of CEGRAD, Prof. Akua Britwum, indicated that power relations; multiple zones of seniority and patriarchal leadership were some of the conditions that facilitate sexual harassment on campus. “Sexual harassment has become an alarming issue all over workplaces and campuses of which the vulnerable has always been the victim because it ‘implied that more females suffer sexual harassment; more males were perpetrators and more males tend suffer male harassment,’ she explained. She advised female staff and students not to allow anybody within or outside the University Community to lure or intimidate them for sexual favours.
The Executive Director of The Ark Foundation, Ghana, Dr. Angela Dwamena-Aboagye, highlighted some facts about sexual harassment adding that ‘it usually occurs when there is disparity of power, not just when men and women are working together”. She explained that retaliation from a person in authority due to refusal of sexual favours was by itself an act of sexual harassment.
Dr. Dwamena-Aboagye who is lawyer and gender activist, indicated that sexual harassment cases needed to be treated with urgency using internal and external interventions such as using counseling mediation; workplace/institutional policy and procedures; reporting to the police and taking up civil action suit.
Consequence of Sexual Harassment
Speaking on consequences of sexual harassment, a lecturer at the Methodist University College, Mr. Adolf Awuku Bekoe, said victims suffer depression, anxiety, shame, fear, anger, denial and low self-esteem. “Sexual harassment creates traumatic conditions such as shock, forgetfulness and inattentiveness to some victims,” he said. He noted that in some instances, perpetrators have always harassed the vulnerable under the influence of drugs, money, threats and power, neglecting the plights of innocent victims.
Mr. Bekoe cautioned that authorities and people of different sexes, and ages needed to be made aware of the consequences associated with sexual harassment such as loss of jobs/career, compensations, fines and collapse of firms. He also charged the Sexual Harassment Committee to use the appropriate mechanisms in place to handle sexual harassment issues by reaffirming one’s confidentiality; helping victims plan for safety; offering the needed support; building their strength; not assigning blames and taking away their fears. “The Sexual Harassment Committee should create an accommodating environment for clients and use flexible …. approaches that will make procedures work rather than breaking procedures” he noted.
Sexual Harassment is Demonic
A member of the Chaplaincy Board, Rev. Patrick Quampa, described sexual harassment as a "demonic act" and advised that there should be more of such workshops to sensitize staff and students of the University to help educate and inform them. He also commended CREGRAD for their immense contribution to helping create a peaceful co-existence among staff and students in the university.
Amongst the participants of the workshop were Hall Tutors, a representatives of the Students Representative Council (SRC), the Sexual Harassment Committee and the Chaplaincy Board.