The Police Community Service Directorate in Ndola District has cautioned lecturers in tertiary institutions of learning against sexually harassing students.
Students at public higher institutions of learning in Ndola have recently complained of increased incidences of sexual harassments involving lecturers.
Sexual harassment was among the challenges the students union representatives recently highlighted when engaging Ndola District Commissioner Joseph Phiri on their welfare.
Sexual harassment is a type of harassment involving the use of explicit or implicit sexual overtones, including the unwelcome and inappropriate promises of rewards in exchange for sexual favors.
Speaking during a stakeholders meeting called by Mr. Phiri to address challenges affecting students held at Northern Technical College (NORTEC), Ndola District Police Community Service Directorate Coordinator Angela Kadochi said Police will not spare any lecturer reported for sexually harassing students.
In a meeting attended by selected NORTEC management members and lecturer, Superintendent Kadochi warned that lecturers should not take advantage of students.
She took time to lecture lecturers on sexual harassment.
“These are issues where you will find a lecturer has been attracted to a student and fails to contain himself and would be saying words like this girl has nice hips. I know a lecturer passing such kinds of words. As much as this may be pleasing to a lecturer, it are intimidating to a student because it is not every student. I would be happy to have such commentaries from their lecturers. Tomorrow or the other day you will see them shunning your classes because they are trying to avoid you. They are trying to avoid a situation where you begin to talk to them like that.”
“Other students may appreciate such talk but others don’t like that and these are the people that end up coming to the police and lodge complaints to say I am not comfortable with the lecturer, each time I come across him he is always admiring my body. Of course sometimes even body contact. The student is passing and you behave like you are dumb you just go and hold her breasts. Even holding from the back, you come, you follow the student from the back and you just throw your hands in front touching the breasts,” Superintendent Kadochi said.
She said Police do not bend on sexual harassment cases.
“That is sexual harassment and the moment it is brought to us, we the victim support unit have no compromise. Just like it is said the law knows no body and when the complaint has been brought to our office by a student especially here in Ndola. That is why I like being on radio and TV to warn people because once such a complaint is brought to us being the Community Service Directorate Coordinator I just give instructions and my instructions are to arrest them. So usually I have cautioned people it is better to refrain from such behaviour. Even as much as we are human beings with feelings, certain words are not supposed to come from us as adults, from us as people that are civilized,” Superintendent Kadochi said.
Superintendent Kadochi said some lecturers threaten to fail victims of sexual harassment when they resist their action.
“We are supposed to hold on to such feelings and probably go and express them home where our wives are or elsewhere. Rather than you start expressing them your feelings on a student you make them become uncomfortable others have even ended up becoming dull in school or losing interest in learning because they are uncomfortable of your sexual practices. So this is what constitutes sexual harassment. It is the coming into contact with the victim, you as a man, you as a lecturer, you come into body contact with a student who may be a woman or lady, touching their breasts, thighs, waist while that person is not willing. That person has not allowed you to do so. Sometimes you may even be doing such practices using threats nga walasasuka nkakufelwisha (If you react with anger I will fail you during exams), you just have to accept what I am doing. So that one, a moment the report comes, dear sirs (lecturers) we are not going to spare anybody,” Superintendent Kadochi added.
She continued:”We are not going to spare anyone because even us the police are not an exception. When we break the law, the law has to visit us and so the better we have ourselves when in school lecturing these students the better. Let’s do our job accordingly, let the students learn in a free environment but a moment you begin to dare them sexually and they bring complaints to us that one won’t go very well. That is the more reason I felt good when the District Commissioner (Joseph Phiri) said we have to accompany him to highlight these issues because this is my job and I like cautioning people well in advance. So that we do the right thing together. So that’s it on sexual harassment. Let’s control our mouth, let’s control our feelings and let’s check what we speak. Don’t say things that will injure others especially a woman sexually. That one is not ok because the moment the report is brought then you expect madam Kadochi to be found at the right place and will deal accordingly.”
Sexual harassment includes a range of actions from verbal transgressions to sexual abuse or assault and can occur in many different social settings such as the workplace, the home, school or churches.