The University of Ghana in its quest to create and maintain a community free from intimidation, exploitation and sexual abuse has recently inaugurated a 15-member Anti-Sexual Harassment Committee.
The Committee has the mandate of addressing sexual harassment and sexual abuse issues relating to the University community, planning and managing the University’s sexual harassment education and training programmes, maintaining records of reports of sexual harassment and actions taken in response to report, as well as preparing and submitting an annual report to the Vice-Chancellor and the University Council on its work. The Committee is also mandated to investigate specific complaints of sexual harassment, delineate and design appropriate sanctions or disciplinary measures to be applied to persons who violate the policy.
Inaugurating the committee, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ernest Aryeetey noted that the need for an Anti-Sexual Harassment Committee arose from four years of the University’s experience in dealing with sexual harassment. He said sexual harassment no matter what form it takes can be costly and has done a lot of damage to a lot of individuals and institutions both locally and internationally. He cited the recent incident that occurred at Mensah Sarbah Hall of the University involving some male students who reportedly sexually harassed an alleged thief.
The Vice-Chancellor said the essence of the sexual harassment policy underlines the University of Ghana’s commitment to creating and maintaining a community in which all persons who participate in the University’s programmes and activities do so in an environment free from intimidation, exploitation and abuse. He added that the University seeks to provide an atmosphere of work and study in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity and ensure that gender is not an impediment in the way of girls and women in pursuance of their acamemic endeavours. “The establishment of the policy is to strongly oppose sexual harassment and sexual abuse in any form and to communicate zero tolerance of any action that may be constituted as sexual harassment or sexual abuse in the University” he emphasized.
Professor Aryeetey said the task assigned the committee is not an easy one. He thanked members of the committee for accepting the invitation to serve in this capacity, and urged them to work hard to ensure the effectiveness of the policy so as to send signals to the university community and the entire nation that the University is serious about the issue of Sexual Harassment.
The Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Academic and Student Affairs, Professor Kweku Osam reechoed the sentiments expressed by the Vice-Chancellor. He noted that Sexual Harassment does not help anybody but rather negatively affects academic performance. He said he is particularly interested in the work of the committee and will provide any support possible to ensure that University of Ghana is seen to be concerned about fairness when it comes to issues about sexual harassment.
Dr. Langbong Bimi, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Animal biology and Conservations Sciences is Chairman of the Anti-Sexual Harassment Committee. Members of the Committee are Rev. Dr. M.P.K. Okyerefo , Deputy Head of CEGENSA, Dr. Ellen Bortei Doku Aryeetey, Representative of Centre for Social Policy Studies (CSPS), Dr. Samuel Atindanbila, Representative of the Psychology Department, and Mr. Alex Wiafe, Representative of Counseling and Placement Centre. The others are Mr. Albert Banon Abdulai, Representative of GAUA, Mr. Theophilus Amaglo , representative of the Students Representative Council (SRC), Mrs. Christine Dowuona-Hamond representative of Faculty of Law, Ms. Sarah Akrofi-Quarcoo representative of School of Communication Studies, Ms. Sarah Opoku representative of GRASAG,Ms. Akyaa Akua Afreh Arhin, Legal Counsel, Ms. Peace Thelma Barnor representative of FUSSAG, Mr. Emmanuel Asampong representative of School of Public Health and Ms. Victoria O. Lamptey representative of TEWU. Professor Dzodzi Tsikata, is an Ex-Officio Member.
In brief remarks, Dr. Bimi urged members to go beyond arbitration on reported issues and be proactive in the prevention of sexual harassment. He thanked the Vice-Chancellor for the confidence reposed in the Committee.
The Head of the Centre for Gender Studies and Advocacy (CEGENSA), Professor Dzodzi Tsikata, also expressed gratitude to the Vice-Chancellor, and the former Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, Professor Kwesi Yankah for their relentless efforts and support during the process of drafting the policy. She hoped the Vice-Chancellor will continue to support the committee by providing the necessary logistics and by ensuring that the committee gains credibility. She pledged CEGENSA’s readiness to facilitate and support the Anti-Sexual Harassment Committee in the implementation of the Sexual Harassment Policy and by establishing a well-equipped sexual harassment crises and counseling unit to support University staff and students who have been victims of sexual harassment or assault cases.
The representative of the Students Representative Council (SRC) on the committee, Mr. Theophilus Amaglo, was thankful to the Vice-Chancellor for ensuring that students are represented on the committee. He hoped members would work closely with them and respect their views.
Other members of the committee who spoke at the short ceremony pledged their commitment to ensure that issues of sexual harassment are appropriately addressed.
Members of the committee shall serve for a term of two years after which they can be nominated to serve for a further two year term.
Present at the ceremony were Mr. J.M. Budu, Registrar, Professor Adomako Ampofo, Director of the Institute of African Studies and former Head of CEGENSA, and Dr. Agnes S. Budu, a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Nutrition and Food Science and Chairperson of the CEGENSA sub-committee on sexual assault and counseling.
Click to download the Policy Document.