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Beyond Dress Code: Sexual Harassment and Rape: A study of University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria. By Nkoli N. Ezumah (PhD), Department of Sociology/Anthropology,

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Presentation on theme: "Beyond Dress Code: Sexual Harassment and Rape: A study of University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria. By Nkoli N. Ezumah (PhD), Department of Sociology/Anthropology,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Beyond Dress Code: Sexual Harassment and Rape: A study of University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria. By Nkoli N. Ezumah (PhD), Department of Sociology/Anthropology, University of Nigeria, Nsukka with Gabriel Oguamanam, Stella Ugwu,; Azuka Ofunwa, Kelechi Ossayi, Perpetua Tanyi Lum: Eucharia Nwosu

2 Introduction Sexual harassment and rape have been identified by many scholars as major problems experienced by females in university campuses in many African countries including Nigeria. Accommodation among others has been identified as a major factor providing the context for the occurrence of these problems.

3 Objective of the study The main objective of this study was to examine the extent to which students’ access to and processes of securing accommodation provide the context, which facilitates the occurrence of sexual harassment and rape in University of Nigeria Nsukka campuses and their off campus sites.

4 Methodology The two campus sites of UNN namely Nsukka and Enugu (UNEC) and the off-campus sites used by UNN students at Nsukka and Enugu constituted the study area. Both quantitative and qualitative methods of data gathering were used. The sample population for the survey comprised 240 respondents consisting of 200 undergraduates (100 males and 100 females) who had spent at least one academic year in either of the two campuses and forty (40) postgraduate students (20males and 20 females).

5 Methodology Contd. The instruments for the qualitative method were Focus Group Discussions (FGDs), In-depth Interviews (IDIs) and Case Studies. For the in-depth interviews (IDIs), twenty-three (23) respondents were interviewed; twenty (20) of them were staff of the university while three (3) were staff at the off campus sites. The two case study participants were female academic staff from Nsukka campus who obtained their degrees from UNN. The qualitative data were analyzed using content analysis while SPSS was used for analysis of the quantitative data.

6 Results / Findings 66.7% of the respondents live in university hostel accommodation, while 33.3% are in off-campus hostel accommodations. A major problem in securing university hostel accommodation is the occurrence of unofficial sale of accommodation. Staff and students are involved in unofficial sale of accommodation. The students alleged to be involved in unofficial sale of accommodation include those officially allocated to hostels but who have alternative accommodation and those acting as agents for staff of Students’ Affairs and officials of the Students’ Union Government (SUG).

7 Results/Findings Contd. Sexual harassment occurs as students move from campus hostels to other facilitates such as the classrooms and libraries. Specific aspects of sexual harassment identified include unwanted touching of the body, verbal assaults and unwelcome comments and beating. Female students experience sexual harassment more although some respondents mentioned that females harass males by their indecent dressing. Other problems students experience include rape and stealing of personal items such as telephones. Main perpetrators of sexual harassment are males.

8 Causes of Sexual Harassment Insecurity in parts of the campuses at night due to insufficient street lights Moving alone late at night Indecent dressing by females Female students seeking to “sort” or upgrade their results Lack of self-control and conscience Drug addiction Revenge for turning down or refusal of a male’s advances. Perception of females as sex objects Presence of males who camouflage as students

9 Actions Taken by Victims of Sexual Harassment Most of the victims are not able to take any action due to; Stigma and shame; Difficulty in establishing that rape occurred, Because some people perceive sexual harassment and rape as normal; Lack of an established system for handling the problems, Fear of victim blaming and repercussion for reporting; Even when victims report, the reporting is late and it is done indirectly through friends and merely when one is afraid of having contracted an infection.

10 University’s Role In Dealing With Problems of Sexual Harassment and Rape 50.0% of the respondents indicated that the emphasis is on dress code. Other actions include punishment of offenders through suspension/expulsion/dismissal (16.4%), posting of security men in various strategic areas (19.7%), creating awareness through seminars, billboards, lectures, and workshops (13.9%). These responses were also reflected in findings from the IDIs and FGDs.

11 Role of Management of off Campus Hostels/Accommodation in Dealing with the Problems of Sexual Harassment and Rape Students are advised to concentrate on their studies and be of good behaviour; Landlords/caretakers have instituted vigilante groups to help curb such occurrences and deal with culprits; Efforts are made to beef-up security measures; Students with fast/aggressive sexual drives are advised to marry

12 Consequences of Sexual Harassment and Rape on Victims Victims develop phobia towards males, Have a feeling of loss of self-worth/shame, Resort to psychological withdrawal, Feel humiliated, Have poor academic performance.

13 Suggestions on what the University should do to deal with Sexual Harassment and Rape Respondents made several suggestions namely; Creation of awareness about the problem through seminars, Establishment of proper dress code, Tightening of security by employing more security men Adequate lightening of the environment, Setting up a disciplinary committee to handle the matter, Punishment of perpetrators Sale of alcohol to be stopped on campus. Philanthropists and corporate organizations to help in providing adequate accommodation for students

14 Discussion of Results Victim-blaming syndrome on account of presumed provocative dressing is a problem. Will sexual harassment stop if women dressed “decently” and not provocatively. This issue of provocative dressing according to Jackson and Scott, (1996) is a demonstration of how women’s sexuality policed and regulated. Another issue of concern is why there should be so much insecurity in the campus that by 8:00pm it is considered too late for females to move around the facilities.

15 Discussion of Results Contd. With the amount of overcrowding reported in the hostels at UNN what are the spaces for females to engage in scholarly endeavours outside the lecture periods if they are to be confined to their hostels before 8 pm? Although the findings show that the university has started sensitization efforts to discourage sexual harassment and sexual rape, there is no indication that there is a set guideline for handling sexual harassment and rape. The emphasis on dress code by the administration is tantamount to victim blaming rather than focusing on critical issues predisposing students to sexual harassment and rape as have been identified in the study.

16 Conclusions Consequences of sexual harassment and rape are enormous affecting emotional, physical and health status of female victims with adverse effects on their educational prospects. There has been the tendency for people to resort to victim-blaming by attributing the cause of sexual harassment and rape to provocative dressing among other factors. Hence part of the strategy suggested by respondents and also implemented by management for mitigating the occurrence of sexual harassment and rape in the university is the emphasis on introduction of dress code. A critical issue raised by this study is whether sexual harassment and rape would cease if women stopped dressing “provocatively”.

17 Recommendations There is the need to ensure adequate security in the university environment by providing streetlights and patrols during the daytime and night. Adequate reading rooms should be provided in each of the female hostels to minimize the problems that occur as students seek to access the classrooms and libraries in the evenings or early in the morning. There is the need to de-emphasize dress mode as the cause of these types of gender based violence and focus more on the fundamental factors that have been identified in the study.

18 Recommendations Contd. The university should make concerted efforts to establish a system of investigation and punishment of perpetrators of sexual harassment and rape. Groups and agencies in the society should be involved in providing adequate accommodation for students Victims should be encouraged to talk about their experiences

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