A FEMALE students’ lobby group, Female Students Network Trust (FSNT), has launched a campaign to push the government to enact a sexual harassment policy to curb incidences of sexual harassment at tertiary institutions.
by Everson Mushava
Speaking after winning the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) Outstanding Standing Civil Society Fighting for Human Rights Award in Bulawayo over the weekend, FSNT director Evernice Munando said her association would continue to push the government to ensure that the policy was enacted next year.
Munando said many female students were sexually harassed by their lecturers and often chose to keep quiet for fear of further victimisation.
“We are currently engaging government so that we have a sexual harassment policy before the end of 2016. We met government officials at the national policy legislative conference in September and made our demands known,” Munando said. “We are pushing the government because female students are being sexually harassed by lecturers and non-academic staff. Most students do not report because they fear victimisation, such as being made to fail.”
Munando said a baseline research conducted by her organisation between June and August this year on sexual harassment in tertiary institutions showed that 94% female students were experiencing various forms of sexual harassment and abuse in exchange for favours such as high grades, money, accommodation and food.
At the same event, former Education minister David Coltart, who won the Male Education Rights Activist of the Year Award, urged Zimbabweans to protest against tax levied on imported text books, saying this would have devastating consequences on the education of future generations.
“This will destroy the reading culture of the country. Already, the country has a shortage of textbooks and the new tax will be very dangerous to our education,” Coltart said.
Opposition MDC-T vice-president Thokozani Khupe, who won the Health Rights Activist of the Year Award, said the government should prioritise health and make cancer treatment affordable and accessible to everyone.
ZimRights director Okay Machisa said defending human rights was everyone’s responsibility and appealed to all stakeholders to continue lobbying for institutionalisation of human rights in all sectors of society.