• Movement helps students who have undergone sexual based violence to speak up.
• They have asked the government to review the Sexual Offence Act, 2006, and fast-track the enactment of the sexual harassment bill.
University students have asked the government to help end sexual-based violence on campuses.
Students under CampusMeToo, a student-led Pan-African movement, made the request at the climax of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.
The movement wants universities to make sexual harassment a topic during every induction for newly enrolled students.
They also want universities to establish an investigative committee that students can approach when they receive unfair or missing marks due to instances of sexual harassment from lecturers.
They have asked the government to review the Sexual Offence Act, 2006, and fast-track the enactment of the sexual harassment bill.
They also want the state to enforce the universities’ commitment in creating safe spaces for learning.
The movement addressed journalists at Zetech University in Ruiru in a statement read by Jael Diana, the face of the movement, and movement spokesperson Rechael Kambura.
“Appoint a gender officer with an obligation to facilitate training and outreach on sexual harassment and develop, disseminate, implement and review relevant policies on sexual harassment,” Kambura said.
CampusMeToo was launched in 2019 to empower students to break their silence on sexual harassment.
A female student told journalists she was inspired to join the movement following events that happened to her as a first year student in one of the public universities.
“I didn’t suspect anything having come from high school, you think it’s a sheer concern when the lecturer asks you, 'do you have a boyfriend?'. it doesn’t register something is off, especially if you haven’t had this conversation with the parent before going to campus,” she said.
She said she failed two units taught by the lecturer after she turned down his advances and was forced to retake the units.
“When I reached out to the head of the department about my grades, he told me maisha sio rahisi venye unafikiria msichana (life is not as easy as you might think). It was at this time it started registering to me exactly what was going on,” she said.
As she couldn’t bear exam resits in the subsequent years, her parents transferred her to a private university where she studies now.
The movement said they have submitted a petition and a follow-up memorandum with proposed interventions.
“This movement is backed by statistics. When we talked to about 11,000 students in 2019 to find out the severity of sexual harassment in institutions, we found out that about 49 per cent of female students and 24 per cent of male students have experienced sexual harassment,” Diana said.