RECENT intense public debates on sexual types of corruption in higher learning education have upset many citizens.
For many, the issue came as something new.
But it is not.
The problem has been known for ages and not only in Tanzania, but across the globe.
What brings it afresh in the public square now is its magnitude, extend, recent grasp and the general community comprehension.
My dedication and time spent in studying this evil at the highest university degree reminds me that corruption is a vice that has besotted humanity since time immemorial.
Sadly, if allowed to persist, it can, for it has the capacity, to eat into the core of not only higher learning institutions but the national ethos leading to the government, which is normally the biggest loser, finding itself grappling to make ends meet as resources supposed to tap into, miraculously disappears into the pockets of individuals.
In whatever form and manifestation, fraud and corruption, an absurd or deviant disposition of people in institutions of higher learning which violates the ethical standards needs an urgent vital check not because it negates the core values of education, but because those involved are not only lecturers as it has recently been emphasized.
The problem involves students, non-academic staff and administrators.
Corruption in higher education simply strikes any unsuspecting and innocent target with so much vigour and ruthlessness.
This, I say because recent studies, for example those conducted in West Africa, have shown that while the shapes of corruption among students includes bribing of lecturers for unmerited grades, cultism, examination malpractice, attacks on lecturers for stopping students from indulging in examination malpractice, fiscal extortion from innocent students by fellow students, for non-teaching staff, corruption practices have involved monetary extortion from students before they see their results, demanding of money from unsuspecting parents in the guise that they are lecturers with a promise to secure admission for their children and acting as agents for lecturers, receiving money from students for higher grades after examination.
It also involves another group of people at any higher learning institution.
Among administrators, there is a mention of misappropriation and misapplication of fund meant for capital projects, offer of admission to undeserving students for a fee while deserving candidates are bypassed, amongst others.
By the w ay, I am not protecting lecturers here.
I know what they are accused of.
Some studies suggest that they are known for demanding huge amount of money, sexual favours from female students and in turn give them high grades.
And this sexual corruption and sexual extortion and its significant and unprecedented increase today is what I am concerned about today.
Yes, in my column, I am taking this type of corruption more seriously not because I am not concerned about other types, but because it is much more to do with gender specific form of corruption and the victims are women who disproportionately experience the problem.
What I want to suggest is that there is a relationship between gender equality and corruption.
As a researcher, I know and have met some people in the public square who still ask what exactly is sexual corruption or sexual extortion and if at all there is such a problem in our society.
Sexual corruption occurs when a woman is forced to perform sexual favours in exchange for services.
In other words, sexual favours are used as a currency for corrupt practices.
In fact, as I indicated earlier, the problem has gained prominence in recent years.
Let me reiterate, women who are in this case form a vulnerable group, should be taken seriously when it comes to this problem.
I take this position based on the fact that by and large there is still in most communities, even higher education communities what I would call women’s lack of political and economic leverage as well as lower levels of literacy and awareness of their rights and entitlements.
It is this state of affairs that reduces their ability to demand accountability.
In my view , sexual corruption should therefore be dealt with in a specific area of anti-corruption efforts.
Unfortunately, almost all written materials and discussions I came across during my studies on corruption speaks of this problem as complex because when it happens it is less likely to be reported, due to a culture of shaming and victim blaming.
Various sources suggest that in Africa the culture seem to have played a greater role in this.
What then should be done to alleviate the problem?
I want to mention a few among so many proposed solutions to the vice.
Well, though I stand to be corrected, but I see the most possible solution is to increase effort towards linking gender and corruption and pushing it to the forefront of anti-corruption policy debate.
I propose that as a nation we have to emphasize the current known significant positive correlation between women and corruption levels.
I am of the opinion that if we want to win the battle we need to develop a deeper analysis of how corruption, gender and other dimensions intersect in order to create meaningful and effective policy measures.
It is the policy approach which could bring significant change and hopefully soon.
If I was to put my case before the general public I would simply say each one of us should do something so as to facilitate the process which will to including women in public life and services as a fulfilment of their basic human rights to participate fully in society.
In fact each one of us can do something.
Let us all be challenged by Martin Luther King Jnr, who decades ago observed that: “ The greatest tragedy of our time is not the few who have destroyed, but the vast majority who have sat idly by.”
And in the words of Elliot Ziwira, let us remember that “ corruption is like a venomous snake with a tail, body and head.
Cutting out the tail may not destroy it and hitting it on the back will only incapacitate its movement, but it will not destroy the venomous head… hitting the head will suffice”.
Let us do something now .
All, says for, says Baltasar Gracion, that belongs to us is time; even he who has nothing else has that.
Hence, the custodians of our time as a nation should not let us down by watching it ticking away without doing anything about it.
More action, less talk is the way to go. Cheers!