Higher Education Minister Dr Brian Mushimba says his Ministry has noted a growing number of reported cases of sexual harassment in institutions of higher learning against female students by Lectures.
Dr Mushimba’a comments follows a month long investigation by the BBC cases of sexual harassment of female students in Nigeria and Ghana in what has become to be known as #SexForGrades scandal.
In a statement, Dr Mushimba said the Ministry has in the recent past, noted with grave concern, the growing number of reported cases of sexual harassment in institutions of Higher Learning against female students by those entrusted with the responsibility of protecting and nurturing them.
“As a Ministry, we wish to encourage these students not to feel constrained to report cases of sexual harassment immediately, as a matter of urgency. It is only through such reports that immediate interventions and actions can be taken and victims protected and perpetrators severely punished,” Dr Mushimba said.
Dr Mushimba said the Ministry of Higher Education condemns, in the strongest terms, this harassment of students in universities and colleges.
He has since directed that all forms of harassment must cease as the Ministry and Government has zero tolerance to such vices.
Dr Mushimba has further warned that those identified as perpetrators of these vices will be brought to book under the full extent of the law.
He further stated that harassment of any form, especially sexual, has no place in institutions of Higher learning as these institutions are the epoch of human development and that is why these vices will be dealt with severely under a new enhanced surveillance program against these vices in universities.
The Minister has assured the victims of the Ministry’s total support and the creation of a safe environment through which to report sexual harassment.
According to the Zambian laws, Criminal Sanctions are provided under the Penal code and a person convicted of Sexual harassment is liable to imprisonment for a term not less than 3 years.
Dr Mushimba has directed all heads of institutions not to protect perpetrators of sexual harassment as doing so is a serious offence and in the same vain urged protection of the victims at all costs.