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CSOs call for tough measures against sexual harassment in schools

By Jeff Andrew Lule

Added 19th March 2019 05:34 PM

''Police and the entire justice sector need to change the way they handle sexual harassment cases against students and girls at large.'' said Mugisha.

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''Police and the entire justice sector need to change the way they handle sexual harassment cases against students and girls at large.'' said Mugisha.

SEXUAL HARRASMENT
          
KAMPALA - Civil Society Organisations fighting for women rights have raised concern on how sexual offenses are investigated saying a lot needs to be done for fair justice.

In a joint statement presented to journalists at Uganda Museum on Monday, the CSOs made a reference of former Kibuli S.S head teacher, who was being accused of sexually harassing students, but was later cleared by police due to lack of witnesses testifying against him.

While presenting the statement, the Executive Director of Raising Voices, Delphine Mugisha stressed that police and the entire justice sector need to change the way they handle sexual harassment cases against students and girls at large.

“Many cases fail along the way because of how they are handled. Many students are harassed in schools but feel insecure to report. We need to create free spaces where victims can openly report these cases with protection.” she added.

Mugisha said they appreciate mechanisms put in place by government to address the problem, a lot still needs to be done to bring the culprits to book.

“We need to build the confidence of girls to report these cases and also build the capacity of institutions responsible.

The teachers’ code of conduct must be effectively implemented and also put in place mechanisms to deal with the problem at schools and other learning institutions.” she added.

The executive director of Centre for Domestic Violence Prevention (CEDOVIP), Tina Musuya, said sexual harassment in education institutions is too high, but many cases go unreported.

The country was shocked in 2017 over allegations that the owner of St. Lawrence Schools, the late Prof. Lawrence Mukiibi had allegedly fathered children with students in his schools.

Musuya noted that sexual harassment was at about 77% among primary school children and 82% among secondary school children, while 8% of girls are subjected to defilement.

“That is why we need report mechanisms in schools and protection of victims to easily prosecute the perpetrators,” she noted.

Musuya stressed that sexual harassment is responsible for high school dropouts of girls and teenage pregnancies.

The Executive Director of High School for Children, Hadijah Mwanje said there is need to strengthen inspection of schools to understand what is happening.

“We need to protect the girl child to give them a better future,” he said.

They asked the Ministry of Education to start revoking licenses of culprits, provide guidelines to schools on how and who to report to incase of sexual violence, enforce the implement the Teachers’ Code of Conduct, implement and enforce legislation that strengthens prevention of and response to sexual harassment and assault in schools and Parliament to expeditiously pass the Sexual Offences Bill to strengthen the protection of women and girls from sexual abuse and exploitation among other recommendations.

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