Sexual Harassment in Schools, a Cause for Concern.

By Letwin Mazarura

Many students have been asked to exchange sexual favours with grades or access to certain information. Those who are at an advantage such as the teachers use their positions to force the students to give in to their demands. This makes the school not a safe place for children and young people.

Teachers are taken as professional guardians whom the parents entrust with their children for the three quarters of the day. When the person you entrust your kid to turn to become the predator that’s when the Shona idiom of entrusting the hyena to look after the lamps applies.

When such sexual case involves the minors, we now term it rape as any child below the age of 16 can not give sexual consent. It is very sad to hear an elder man claiming that he was in love with a grade 6 pupil and that they agreed to engage in sex when the law clearly states that.

Section 81 subsection 1(e) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe clearly states that “ every child that is; to say a boy or a girl under the age of eighteen has a right to be protected from economic and sexual exploitation, from child labour and from maltreatment, neglect or any form of abuse.”

Recently, a 39 year old teacher in Chipinge has been jailed for three years for being intimate with a Grade 6 pupil.

The primary school teacher, whose name has been withheld to protect the identity of his victim, was convicted on his own plea of guilty before Chipinge magistrate Elizabeth Hanzi.

He was sentenced to five years in prison of which two years were conditionally suspended for five years of good behaviour.
The teacher claimed that he was in love with the girl and they agreed to engage in sex.

“I was in love with the girl. We had agreed to engage in sex because we were in a relationship,” he said.

Many cases of the school teachers who are in relationships with the students have been reported around the country with the teachers claiming that they are in love with the students who can be categorised as minors.

Prosecutor Shamiso Ncube told the court that on an unknown date in June, the 13-year-old girl, together with her two friends aged 10 and 12, went to the teacher’s house to borrow plastic tins.

However, he gave them his laptop to watch movies in his cottage. From that day the girls regularly visited the teacher at his house.

On another date, unknown to the prosecutor, the teacher proposed love to the girl, and she agreed, and he indulged in sex with her.
This is not the only case of child sexual abuse in schools. Schools are supposed to be a place for children to learn and grow and it should be a safe place.

A massive sex scandal has hit elite boarding school Barwick Primary following allegations that pupils have become victims of sexual harassment by male staffers. Several allegations have been raised by pupils at the school amidst fears that the worse could be happening to the minor pupils admitted at the boarding facility.

Alleged reports of sexual harassment of four pupils by one teacher identified only as Mafanya wreaked havoc at the school on sometime in July 2019 as parents drove all the way to Concession during the night.
Mafanya who is now believed to be on the run is alleged to have been inserting his fingers in the minors’ private parts and molesting them regardless of the fact that his wife is also employed as a teacher at the same school.

At the colleges and universities, you can see some students driving expensive car and wearing the trending and nicest clothes of the moment. Not all of those stuff is coming from their parents. Some of the parents are even striving to keep up with the large sum of the fees required by the schools. Some are engaging in sexual activities either willingly or unwilling and they get those things as incentives.

Even the student at a tertiary level have been reported to be also experiencing the same sexual assaults and maybe a little more as shown by various initiatives that was taken by many non-governmental organisations ( NGOs) to denounce such acts.

In a report by Standard December 2015, the Female Students Network Trust (FSNT) conducted a research and the found out that institutions of higher learning have become a hunting ground for sex predators.

Of the 3 425 students interviewed in the research, about 94% of them indicated that they had experienced sexual harassment of some sort from lecturers and non-teaching staff in return for favours.

“About 339 reported having been forced into unprotected sex in sexual encounters with lecturers, 209 in sexual encounters with non-academic staff members in tertiary institutions and 902 in sexual encounters with male students,” part of the report by the female student lobby group said.

“The report claimed that about 673 of female students reported having been coerced into drinking alcohol or were injected with drugs by lecturers and non-academic staff during date outings and thereafter sexually assaulted.”

The study was carried out to establish the various manifestations of gender-based violence and sexual harassment among students in tertiary institutions.

Nyari Mashayamombe

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