The Human Resources Officer for the Children’s Dignity Forum (CDF), Lennyster Byalugaba made the call in Dar es Salaam yesterday at a workshop aimed at discussing availability and accessibility of policies and services on sex-related violence in higher learning institutions.
Speaking on behalf of Executive Director Koshuma Mtengeti, Byalugaba said that numerous girls in varsities face sexual violence from their dons but they don’t report it to administrative authorities who can help them due to inaccessibility of services for elimination of violence against young girls and women.
At present there is no actual data as to what extent girls face sexual harassment in various universities because most of the victims do not report to what she called ‘credible authorities’ who can help them to check the situation.
“CDF has organized this workshop as to commemorate November 25th, the International Day for elimination of violence against women around the world. This year we have decided to engage higher learning girl students and other educational stakeholders to discuss on how we can eliminate sexual harassment in these educational institutions.
“Now we face a lot of challenges to fight this kind of violence because girl students are not willing to report what they face on the ground. Most of the time we visit these institutions to ask them is there is any gender based violence do they face? They say yes, but when it comes to report and provide evidence to the subject matter they are not ready,” Byalugaba noted.
Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) lawyer Naemy Sillayo said that most gender based violent practices are socially constructed and being institutionalized by the community in a way that young girls and women are inhibited from accessing their full rights in their community such as the right to education.
She said that the community needs to be change by eliminating all kinds of gender stereotyping and violence since girls and women are also human beings who need to share equal rights as men.
“In our report for January up to June this year we show that there are a total of 13,895 reported cases or implicated in gender based violence nationwide. In these cases there are 1,200 raping cases nationwide.
“We understand that there is a wide range of sexual violence in the community especially in higher learning institutions but normally constraint is felt in reporting. Victims of sexual violence do not report and most of them end up crying on their own,” said Sillayo.
One of the students who attended the workshop from a city university who preferred anonymity said that at one time she faced sexual violence from her don but she did not get support despite reporting to that particular varsity’s gender unit.
“There is a gender unit in our university. At one time, one of my lecturers harassed me sexually; I decided to report to a certain professor. Unfortunately I was surprised by the poor response from the unit.
I did not get any support instead the lecturer was defended by all varsity staff. Actually, I was very much disappointed,” she added.