OpEd

Give Makerere a break, sexual harrassment is a national scandal

Fortunate Ahimbisibwe

I spent the first half of my career writing about Makerere and generally the education sector. I later ventured into political and investigative reporting. In those days, there were few or no cases of sex for marks, partly because those who went to Makerere deserved to be there in the first place, these days, anyone can sell their cows and find a way into Makerere, and I think thats why the problem of sex for marks arises. Otherwise, how would a student who qualifies to go to Makerere start negotiating for sex for marks. In my class for example, all the young ladies were bright and smart, they did not need to trade thier bodies for marks, and we never had a rumour about anyone.

Part of the solution therefore would be to make sure that students are in the right place, those who cant get the marks should not be there.

Edward Kisuze was identified as the staff member caught on camera in a sexual act with a student.

That side, I should state that at the centre of every powerful office, there is a silent but alarming sexual abuse pattern. People only speak about it in hushed voices.

But Makerere University, being what it is, is facing the problem head-on. Seeing the stories about Makerere’s sex for marks scandals is as disappointing as it’s disgusting. But it’s more uncomfortable given the hypocrisy with which it’s being reported and discussed in isolation.

Sexual harassment at Makerere is as bad as it is in any other place. Why are we not exposing the sexual abuse tendencies going on in other places such as Parliament, Judiciary, State House etc. I can bet there is more sexual abuse in some media houses than the one reported at Makerere.

Anyone who lives, works and moves around the world knows that sexual harassment is a big problem across the whole world. The difference is how authorities deal with the problem.

Even the biggest personalities have been accused of the same, that includes US Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, British defence minister Michael Fallon resigned recently over the same, Former Welsh government minister Carl Sargeant committed suicide, the infamous Hollywood Harvey Weinstein, Silvio Berlusconi, an Italian media tycoon and former Prime Minister, Dominique Gaston André Strauss-Kahn is a French politician, former MD of International Monetary Fund (IMF) and many others.

However, most of these have paid the price for their philandering. Do our own sex-pests pay the price???
In Britain, for example, BBC reported that nearly one in five people working in Britain’s parliament were sexually harassed or witnessed inappropriate behaviour in the past year. Would the same be said of our own Parliament?
The difference therefore is how we treat our own perpetrators of sexual abuse.

I know many powerful men in Ugandan politics and business who are now married to their former students, former secretaries etc. This obviously would have started off as sexual harassment. If the Ugandan female MPs were to openly speak about their experiences, the revelations would be shocking. Who has not heard of one of the country’s top personality that is married to one of his former household staff? Wasn’t this sexual abuse?
The female students at Makerere should be applauded for exposing the vice while hundreds of women are suffering in silence.

There is sexual harassment everywhere around us especially in Government departments. The difference is that while Makerere women tend to expose their tormentors, those in other Government departments keep quiet or are silenced with various methods either by intimidation or they become beneficiaries of the sex acts.

Men are sexually harassing their maids, secretaries and Personal Assistants, workmates and even dependants. Sexual abuse is evil wherever it takes place, be it Makerere or in a home.
The solution would be to encourage women to speak against this disaster and we all try to create an environment where sexual harassment can’t be accepted or tolerated… and there is a difference between sex for marks and marks for sex.

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