MPs Shocked By High Sexual Abuse Cases In Varsities, Colleges

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By Stephen Tsamba

A FACT finding mission parliamentary portfolio committees on higher and tertiary education and women’s affairs have brought to the fore the high levels of sexual abuse prevalent in both private and state tertiary institutions perpetrated by male lecturers.

An MP, who is part of the public hearings told Monday that legislators were shocked during their fact-finding mission by the high levels of sexual harassment of female students and junior staff members by lecturers and senior management.

The MP said it was worrying female students who were sexually abused feared reporting the male sexual predators as they feared being victimised and failing their examinations.

“What we have found is when you interview the executive they will tell you that they have never had a case of sexual harassment because there is none that has been reported,” the MP said.

“But when you start listening to lecturers and students you find out that, firstly cases are not reported because of the reporting structure, or secondly because of fear.”

“Fear of the known and the unknown in places like universities, where marking is done at the institution and even in teachers’ colleges where their assignments and coursework are marked at an institutional level, and they would rather keep quiet and finish their studies rather than open Pandora’s box that will lead to them failing”

The fact-finding mission was conducted by two parliamentary teams, and it ended Monday with a visit to Harare Polytechnic.

The tertiary institutions the teams visited included Hillside Teachers College, Solusi University, National University of Science and Technology (NUST) all in Bulawayo, Lupane State University, Mkoba Teachers College in Gweru, Bindura University of Science Education, Midlands State University in Gweru, Great Zimbabwe University in Masvingo, and Belvedere Teachers College in Harare.

The MP told that the fact-finding mission was done following a petition filed by the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) and Zimbabwe Congress of Students Union (ZICOSU) over rampant cases of sexual abuse in tertiary schools.

On their visit to the Lupane State University last week, the MPs were met by protesting female staff members who accused the university’s Vice-Chancellor Pardon Kuipa of sexually abusing their colleagues.

The university’s spokesperson Zwelithini Dlamini confirmed the accusations.