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Facing Up To Sexual Harassment In Kenyan Universities: #CampusMeToo Movement

Facing up to sexual harassment in Kenyan universities: #CampusMeToo movement

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1 in 2 female students and 1 in 4 male students have been sexually harassed to some degree at the hands of staff at Kenyan universities.

In a bid to break the silence on sexual harassment and advocate for the development and implementation of new, and improvement of existing, anti-sexual harassment policies in Kenyan universities and colleges, ActionAid in partnership with UN Women launched a campaign under the hashtag #CampusMeToo at the University of Nairobi aimed at tackling sexual harassment of students on Kenyan university campuses.

A survey conducted by ActionAid found that out of 1,015 students 49% female and 24% male have experienced sexual harassment from a staff member at their institution. 66% of the incidences were by a lecturer. Of the sexual harassment victims, the majority do not tell anyone with 38% female and 33% male students of the opinion that it would be unlikely that the institution will take a report of sexual harassment seriously.

Their report further noted that first and second-year students, gender non-conformity students and financially vulnerable students were the most affected.

“Sexual harassment targeted at students in higher learning institutions in Kenya is a deeply ingrained issue. It continues to undermine human rights and unfairly deprives the youth of Kenya a safe environment in which they can thrive, innovate and contribute positively to their personal and educational development.”

Project coordinator for the campaign Macrine Ondigo.

The student-led Kenyan extension of the now global #MeToo movement also comes after an increasing rate of gender-based violence and femicide in the country. BBC Africa‘s recent documentary Sex For Grades highlighted the manifestation of sexual harassment in institutions of higher learning.

The campaign culminated in a petition to put colleges and university leaders to account signed by 15,000 students and presented to the Ministry of Education, and the representation from the university heads. The demands the students are making include mandatory induction sessions for newly enrolled students, training sessions for university staff in terms of prescribed sexual harassment policies and the appointment of an investigation committee on all campuses that will handle sexual harassment cases.

Assistant Director Education Charles Obiero and Former Uon Students Leader Caesarin Mulobi hands over signed petition against sexual harassment by university students to Gender Affairs PS Safina Kwekwe. 

Technical University of Kenya vice-chancellor Francis Aduol said information about sexual harassment in universities is concealed.

“We are having so many cases of missing marks but it never occurred to me some of them are because of sexual harassment,” Aduol said, adding that Kenya needs to find a way to escalate the issue of sexual harassment to Parliament.

Technical University of Kenya vice-chancellor Francis Aduol

This campaign was part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence with an array of activities together with stakeholders in creating awareness on gender-based violence and calling for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls under the theme: “Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands against Rape!”

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