Blaming dress code for sexual abuse in Zimbabwe criticise

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Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) – the state body in charge of gender issues – has been criticised for its proposal that universities introduce a dress code to reduce cases of sexual harassment at the institutions.

The commission’s Legal and Investigations manager Delis Mazambane was quoted by local media as saying the proposal is meant to protect students from sexual harassment.

“To make life easier for the lecturer the university needs to have a dress code policy, of course, the constitution talks about freedom of expression but institutions are allowed to cascade such provisions to their own needs,” she said in a speech on Tuesday at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST).

Mazambane said that there would be exceptions to the policy:

“During the weekend, the students can then wear whatever they want but when attending lectures, they need to be guided on how to dress and this makes it easier for lecturers to pinpoint that according to the university’s policy you are not dressed appropriately.”

She added that relationships between lecturers and students are unacceptable.

The NUST Dean of students Sibongile Kamusoko is quoted as saying by local media news site that the main challenge they face is victims not reporting the abuse:

“Very often I see young men coming forward to report that women are being abused but the women themselves don’t step up so there is no way we can do anything without tangible proof and information.”

One student suggested that universities need to vet lecturers before hiring them:

“Can universities have a mechanism to sample if someone is a perpetrator or if they have any cases of previously abusing students in their workplaces,” she said.