Academic journal article Asian Social Science

A Survey of Teachers' and Students' Perception of Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Institutions of Edo State, Nigeria

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

A Survey of Teachers' and Students' Perception of Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Institutions of Edo State, Nigeria

Article excerpt


The study examined how teachers and students of tertiary institutions in Edo State of Nigeria perceived sexual harassment. The design of the study was descriptive (survey) research. The sample of the study consisted of two hundred lecturers and two hundred students of tertiary institutions in Edo state. A questionnaire, entitled "Lecturers' and Students' Perceptions of Sexual Harassment Scale" was used to gather data for the study. The results indicated that majority of the respondents agreed that sexual harassment is prevalent in schools and that sexual harassment impacts negatively on the academic performance of victims. Based on the findings, it was recommended among others that tertiary institutions should provide the framework where teachers and students can dialogue on issues bothering on students' and lecturers' relationships

Keywords: Sexual abuse, Gender violence, School violence, School failure, Academic stressor, Sexual assault, Academic fraud, College students

1. Introduction

Sexual harassment in Nigeria's universities appears to be under-researched and even less reported (Adamolekun, 1989). However, the Commission on the Review of Higher Education in Nigeria (CRHEN) (1991, as cited in Ladebo, 2001) suggests that the phenomenon is gradually assuming critical dimension in Nigeria's higher institutions of learning.

Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours and other verbal or physical conduct of sexual nature (Aluede, 2000; Cohen, n.d). It is a silent disease that is seriously eroding academic excellence in tertiary institutions in Nigeria. It is often seen as a behaviour that is unwelcome (the recipient does not want it), unsolicited (the recipient did not ask for it), and repeated (the behaviour is not one isolated incident). A behaviour can be considered sexual harassment when: (a) submission to such conduct is explicitly or implicitly a term or condition for an individual's employment or participating in educational programmes; or (b) submission to, or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for employment or academic decisions affecting the individual; or (c) when such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an employee's work performance or student's academic performance, creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or learning environment(Anonymous, nd).

The definition of sexual harassment identifies the various behaviours that may constitute sexual harassment in a work environment. The first two provisions deal with unequal power relations between the employer/supervisor and employee/subordinate. An employer or a supervisor demands sexual gratification from the employee or subordinate in return for job benefits. In the academic environment, a parallel situation could be argued to arise when faculty propose to female students for sexual favours, in return for favourable examination results. The third provision refers to the existence of a hostile work environment, where the offending behaviour interferes with the satisfactory work performance of an employee. Fitzgerald, Gelfand and Drasgow (1995) further extended this definition by adding three empirically derived situations: unwanted sexual attention such as touching, hugging, stroking and demanding a date; sexual coercion, which relates to sexual advances with the promise of job-related benefits; and gender harassment, which refers to those verbal and non-verbal behaviours (such as jokes, taunts, gestures, and exhibition of pornographic materials)

Tertiary institutions in Nigeria have been bedevilled with obscene dressing by students, especially the female students, secret cult activities and drug abuse, to mention a few. Most of the female students almost go naked, display their navels and boobs and wearing what are just ample cleavages on display depicting size and shape of the private parts with minis that barely cover their buttocks. …

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