Students, mainly girls, often face various forms of sexual harassment including sexual corruption or ‘sextortion.’
This was disclosed on Wednesday in Dar es Salaam during an event organised by TGNP Mtandao, being part of functions lined up to mark 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, a campaign that kicked off last month.
According to reports, 75 to 89 per cent of women in the country have already experienced some form of sexual harassment and assault at the work place, particularly when seeking for jobs.
The reports say that in most nations, both developed and developing, women are daily subjected to various forms of sexual assault.
An official from the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB), Tulibako Minga, points out that the PCCB Act No. 11 of 2007 prohibits sexual harassment and sextortion, meaning it is a criminal offence.
The Act says that sexual advances by word or action used by a person in authority at the workplace or any other place shall constitute the offence of sexual harassment, which attracts on conviction imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or to a fine not exceeding Sh300,000 or to both fine and imprisonment.
However, despite sextortion being common, Miga says it has not been confined to the education system, as it has been noticed in many organizations with a good number of incidents going unrecorded or unreported.
She said such incidents also do not reach the legal system due to a number of reasons, including the culture of secrecy, parenting and bribing the parents or guardians of the victims and legal practitioners.
“There are very few reports on sexual corruption compared to other kinds of corruption,” she said.
“We have the responsibility to speak openly about this problem from the family level. And the most affected is the education sector. Let’s come out and speak openly to fight this vice,” she said.
The official urged the public to report to PCCB any incident relating to sexual corruption, saying currently there was an ongoing education awareness campaign on how to fight corruption in the country.
For her part, chairperson of a women’s section in the Trade Union Congress of Tanzania (TUCTA) Rehema Ludanga said usually girls and women seeking employment have found themselves prey to the vice in exchange for employment.
“This has been a major challenge to many women seeking jobs, but they never share the secret or the torment with anyone,” she remarked.
She commended the government for ratifying various international conventions regarding people’s rights including The Beijing Declaration and Platform; the Africa Charter of Human Rights and the African Protocol on the Rights of Women and Children.
She however pointed out that despite the laws, sexual corruption and sexual harassment are still pervasive in all sectors of the economy, calling on the government to revisit the laws with a view to making them more stringent.
“The increase in sextortion incidents in schools, colleges and universities has sparked public debate on the moral standing of teachers,” she said.
Neema Shirunga, a former factory employee, said she experienced sexual harassment when seeking employment at her workplace.
“The authorities, especially the PCCB, need to make regular visits to workplaces and listen to female workers’ ordeal, particularly those of part-time workers,” she urhed.
Rachel Bugingo from the Centre for Zero Violence said to end gender violence in society everyone needs to be responsible to act against sexual harassment.
According to Grace Mgumba, a student at St John University, there is a need to include sexual violence as a subject from lower classes to rescue the coming generation from the predicament.
Sextortion is a term coined to combine sex and extortion in explaining sexual abuse and exploitation. It is a form of sexual exploitation that employs a non-physical form of coercion to get a sexual favour from an individual who is the victim.
For sextortion to happen, the perpetrator of the act must be a person in authority who takes advantage of their office to win love from the victim for the sake of employment, promotion, good grades in examination or any other service.