News

S****l h****sment bug biting campus students

Tuesday, December 8th, 2020 00:00 | By

Sandra Wekesa @wekesa_andayi

In 2017, Mary Mwihaki (not her real name) joined university with so much zeal and energy, to accomplish a lot of things.

What kept her going was her ‘not so well off’ background, which she was determined to change.

As a 17 year-old-girl, she was the model student. She did not have much to offer, other than grasping all the knowledge that would help her acquire good grades in one of Kenya’s largest learning institutions, the University of Nairobi. 

She often made a point of asking for extra learning materials from all her lecturers after classes, which really boosted her studies.

But, one day, a certain lecturer in charge of one of her units called her to his office. 

“I knew I was only going to take lecture notes as usual and leave his office. However, upon arrival, he started complimenting me how beautiful I was. I got so confused.

He proceeded to touch me indecently. His actions filled me with fear. I ended up leaving his office in a huff,” she recalls.

Determined to ignore the whole issue, she continued attending his class. Then the bombshell came! He started threatening her when she refused to meet him.

“On that day, he asked me to meet him in town, with  a threat that he would give me a re-sit if I failed to honour the meeting.

I quickly dashed out and even arrived at the meeting venue before time. We went to a restaurant and he asked me to go to the hostel and pack a few clothes that I could use on his trip to Eldoret.

As naïve as I was, I went to the hostel, packed a few things and accompanied him on his trip,” she says.

Seek counselling

Upon arrival, they had to spend the night in the same room but she kept on refusing to share a bed with him. But she eventually gave in and they got intimate.

This was the beginning of her new fate, but she couldn’t watch her dream go down the drain.

So she decided to start avoiding his class but it was not easy. Eventually she opted to change the unit, just to avoid anything to do with the lecturer.

But unfortunately, he was a common course lecturer, and she ended up taking a re-sit in that unit.

“I had to do the right thing, sleeping with a man old enough to be my father wasn’t an option.

The little damage I had done was already affecting my performance in class. I had to seek counselling from a lecturer within the institution,” says Mary.

She ended up changing her course altogether, and is currently in her third year, peacefully pursuing her studies. 

Her case is not different for Diana, who got a call from her lecturer while she was on holiday.

He informed her that she had failed his unit and he wanted to explain to her, what is expected in such a situation.

Private apartment

Not knowing what was ahead, she decided to meet him at his office for ‘the conversation’. 

“He wanted to exchange a passing grade for ‘small favours’ in a private apartment.

He failed me in two more units for declining to meet him at an apartment. This stressed me so much and it led to my poor performance in other units,” she reveals.

If you thought such cases are only unique to female students, then you are wrong.

Although their male counterparts might not be willing to share their experiences, some admit to having gone through sexual harassment from female lecturers.

Jackson says at one point, his lecturer asked him for his phone number after a lecture. He saw this as a great opportunity to try and understand the course better.

After sometime, she invited him for coffee but he didn’t show up. She never reached out to him again and before he knew it, he had scored a D in that unit. 

“I felt frustrated as I knew no one would believe me since I was a male student. So I decided to keep quiet and work harder in the other units to improve my overall mean grade,” he explains.

A survey by Action Aid in 2019 highlighted that one in two female students and one in four male students are sexually harassed by a member of staff in institutions of higher learning.

The study, which sampled 1,000 students from various universities in the country, showed that 66 per cent of students were victims of sexual harassment by a lecturer, 49  per cent of women and 24 per cent of men experienced sexual harassment from a member of staff. 

Additionally, 38 per cent of female and 33 per cent of male students think that it is unlikely that their institutions would take a sexual harassment report seriously.

Caesarine Mulobi, CampusMeToo spokesperson says the only way to wipe out the vice is by compelling the Ministry of Education to direct higher learning institutions, to develop a binding and transparent procedure for eradication of sexual harassment in universities. CampusMeToo is a movement organised by campus students to fight sexual harassment.

Sex-for-grade

“Students are afraid to report such cases because of the stigma associated with it. In most cases people will often want to blame the  victims  and ignore the vice,” she says.

Against this background, CampusMeToo created a petition last year, to make sexual harassment- a topic in every induction for new students. 

The group also submitted a petition to the Ministry of Education  which it says need to be followed up closely,” Mulobi says.

Emma Mong’ute; founded Amandla MEK Foundation, an organisation that offers counselling on sexual harassment to students in campus. She saw the need to help students progress in their education. 

“I remember when I was in my third year, I had an encounter with a lecturer who would constantly call me at night, requesting for a meeting. On days that I didn’t know what to say, he would threaten to give me a retake on his units,” she recalls.

However, she managed to get help from a female lecturer and it played a big role in helping her secure her grades.

She has now made it her mission to ensure that girls get enough help and speak out when it comes to sexual harassment.

Sandra Wekesa @wekesa_andayi

In 2017, Mary Mwihaki (not her real name) joined university with so much zeal and energy, to accomplish a lot of things.

What kept her going was her ‘not so well off’ background, which she was determined to change.

As a 17 year-old-girl, she was the model student. She did not have much to offer, other than grasping all the knowledge that would help her acquire good grades in one of Kenya’s largest learning institutions, the University of Nairobi. 

She often made a point of asking for extra learning materials from all her lecturers after classes, which really boosted her studies.

But, one day, a certain lecturer in charge of one of her units called her to his office. 

“I knew I was only going to take lecture notes as usual and leave his office. However, upon arrival, he started complimenting me how beautiful I was. I got so confused.

He proceeded to touch me indecently. His actions filled me with fear. I ended up leaving his office in a huff,” she recalls.

Determined to ignore the whole issue, she continued attending his class. Then the bombshell came! He started threatening her when she refused to meet him.

“On that day, he asked me to meet him in town, with  a threat that he would give me a re-sit if I failed to honour the meeting.

I quickly dashed out and even arrived at the meeting venue before time. We went to a restaurant and he asked me to go to the hostel and pack a few clothes that I could use on his trip to Eldoret.

As naïve as I was, I went to the hostel, packed a few things and accompanied him on his trip,” she says.

Seek counselling

Upon arrival, they had to spend the night in the same room but she kept on refusing to share a bed with him. But she eventually gave in and they got intimate.

This was the beginning of her new fate, but she couldn’t watch her dream go down the drain.

So she decided to start avoiding his class but it was not easy. Eventually she opted to change the unit, just to avoid anything to do with the lecturer.

But unfortunately, he was a common course lecturer, and she ended up taking a re-sit in that unit.

“I had to do the right thing, sleeping with a man old enough to be my father wasn’t an option.

The little damage I had done was already affecting my performance in class. I had to seek counselling from a lecturer within the institution,” says Mary.

She ended up changing her course altogether, and is currently in her third year, peacefully pursuing her studies. 

Her case is not different for Diana, who got a call from her lecturer while she was on holiday.

He informed her that she had failed his unit and he wanted to explain to her, what is expected in such a situation.

Private apartment

Not knowing what was ahead, she decided to meet him at his office for ‘the conversation’. 

“He wanted to exchange a passing grade for ‘small favours’ in a private apartment.

He failed me in two more units for declining to meet him at an apartment. This stressed me so much and it led to my poor performance in other units,” she reveals.

If you thought such cases are only unique to female students, then you are wrong.

Although their male counterparts might not be willing to share their experiences, some admit to having gone through sexual harassment from female lecturers.

Jackson says at one point, his lecturer asked him for his phone number after a lecture. He saw this as a great opportunity to try and understand the course better.

After sometime, she invited him for coffee but he didn’t show up. She never reached out to him again and before he knew it, he had scored a D in that unit. 

“I felt frustrated as I knew no one would believe me since I was a male student. So I decided to keep quiet and work harder in the other units to improve my overall mean grade,” he explains.

A survey by Action Aid in 2019 highlighted that one in two female students and one in four male students are sexually harassed by a member of staff in institutions of higher learning.

The study, which sampled 1,000 students from various universities in the country, showed that 66 per cent of students were victims of sexual harassment by a lecturer, 49  per cent of women and 24 per cent of men experienced sexual harassment from a member of staff. 

Additionally, 38 per cent of female and 33 per cent of male students think that it is unlikely that their institutions would take a sexual harassment report seriously.

Caesarine Mulobi, CampusMeToo spokesperson says the only way to wipe out the vice is by compelling the Ministry of Education to direct higher learning institutions, to develop a binding and transparent procedure for eradication of sexual harassment in universities. CampusMeToo is a movement organised by campus students to fight sexual harassment.

Sex-for-grade

“Students are afraid to report such cases because of the stigma associated with it. In most cases people will often want to blame the  victims  and ignore the vice,” she says.

Against this background, CampusMeToo created a petition last year, to make sexual harassment- a topic in every induction for new students. 

The group also submitted a petition to the Ministry of Education  which it says need to be followed up closely,” Mulobi says.

Emma Mong’ute; founded Amandla MEK Foundation, an organisation that offers counselling on sexual harassment to students in campus. She saw the need to help students progress in their education. 

“I remember when I was in my third year, I had an encounter with a lecturer who would constantly call me at night, requesting for a meeting. On days that I didn’t know what to say, he would threaten to give me a retake on his units,” she recalls.

However, she managed to get help from a female lecturer and it played a big role in helping her secure her grades.

She has now made it her mission to ensure that girls get enough help and speak out when it comes to sexual harassment.

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