The efficacy of institutional structures in addressing sexual harassment at Makerere University
MetadataShow full item record
Sexual harassment is a common human rights violation on college campuses around the world, affecting students and staffs’ health, emotional well-being, and academic performance. Uganda, like other countries, is affected by the crisis. Although Makerere University has a number of policies, guidelines, and structures in place to address sexual harassment at all levels, the issue persists. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of institutional policies, guidelines, and structures in combating sexual harassment at Makerere University. The study adopted a qualitative exploratory case study design to collect primary and secondary data. In terms of the policies, guidelines, and structures in place to mitigate sexual harassment at Makerere University, 43 percent of students were unaware of the existence of the policy that specifies the response structures, 75 percent were unaware of the policy's content, including the specified institutional structures, and 35 percent were unsure how and where to access the policy. On the other hand, while all staff members were aware of the policy's existence, more than 80 percent were unaware of its contents. In terms of reporting, staff, but especially students, reported limited knowledge, access, and use of existing structures. The structures were reported to lack discretion. Furthermore, the students observed that even when cases are reported they take too long rendering the system non-responsive to their needs. In conclusion, both staff and students reported the structures as ineffective in terms of addressing sexual harassment resulting in non-utilization of the structures by students, who are disproportionately affected by the vice. Recommendations to the University include putting in place policies and guidelines that will increase knowledge about sexual harassment and the existing structures and systems; reviewing the current policies, guidelines, and structures to make them more responsive and confidential due to the sensitivity of the matter; and promoting gender sensitisation campaigns to increase awareness on gender relations and power dynamics, as well as positive ways of managing them to demystify the power of especially lecturers and leaders.