Students shed light on sextortion in institutions

DESPITE measures taken by the government and other stakeholders to safeguard people’s rights, including ratification of various regional and international conventions, some forms of sexual harassments, especially sexual extortion still exists in places of work and higher learning institutions.

The conventions include the Beijing Declaration, the Africa Charter of Human Rights and the African Protocol on the Right of Women and Children.

Arriving at that during a two-day workshop on “Addressing Sexual Gender Based Violence in Higher Learning Institutions,” in Dar es Salaam, recently, the participants mostly students noted that as much as majority of them would not change their behaviours and realise that marks are earned from studies and not awarded, the problem would still exist.

One of the participants, Maria Mapunda, who is Mwanamke na Mafanikio Chief Executive Officer, said students must realise that notwithstanding the nationwide campaign intended for ending sexual corruption, sextortion is a common prevalence in education system that goes unnoticed by many.

She added that there are many occurrences that are not spoken out or reported to the legal system due to a number of reasons, including the culture of secrecy, parents being paid by the perpetrator and corruption among legal providers.

She added: “Despite this, we must educate the public and mostly female students in institutions that sextortion is a crime that should be reported and perpetrators punished. As girls, let us give education priority and shun shortcuts to earn marks.”

Another participant, Pendo John from the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) painfully narrated how they were forced to repeat an academic year after one of her friends was caught in the web and they (five of them) had to be unfairly punished by the don.

As most of them took the podium, they expressed how and why sex extortion (sextortion) still exists in higher learning institutions, portioning the blame to some of them adopting a culture of looking for shortcuts in studies and waiting to influence lecturers to award them marks.

Equally, some of them cited personal and friends’ testimonies of how lecturers frame them to become failures and the only way to be cleared (read pass the exams) is to sacrifice to have an affair with the concerned don.

Due to the fact that the perpetrators abuse their office for personal gains, the act qualifies as corruption, much like the brutal forms of sexual violence that must be condemned.

Gracing the occasion, Habitat For Humanity Tanzania Country Representative, Fortunata Temu, advised the students to be strong in their studies, saying: “A lecturer would not bend that low if the first impression shown by a student is seriousness,”.

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