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Makerere University wants sexual harassment laws revised

 

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Makerere University management wants parliament to revise some of the existing laws on sexual harassment.

Dr Lorna Magara, the chairperson of Makerere University Council noted that one of the major challenges in handling perpetrators of sexual harassment is that the University cannot suspend implicated staff beyond three months.

Speaking at a launch of an online platform; Kicking Sexual Harassment out of Higher Education Institutions in Uganda-KISH, Magara noted that the three months elapse before investigations are completed which interferes with the investigations.

In 2018, Makerere University Council made revisions in the institution’s “zero tolerance” policy on sexual harassment, which places the burden of proof on the perpetrators.

The Policy and Regulations against Sexual Harassment, and the Safer Universities Project was subsequently launched in 2019. It also provides for 100 members of the Vice Chancellor’s Standing Roster to investigate sexual harassment cases.

Last year, the Makerere University Appointments Board dismissed Edward Kisuze, an officer in the Academic Registrar’s Department, who was convicted by the court for indecent assault of a female student.

Kisuze’s troubles started in 2018 when he was arrested for sexually assaulting Rachael Njoroge in his office where she had gone to certify her academic documents. His arrest followed a photo that circulated on social media showing the assistant registrar sexually assaulting Njoroge.

Jacob Oulanyah, the Speaker of Parliament commended the platform and advised that it is broadened to accommodate representatives of different stakeholders in the fight against sexual harassment.

A baseline survey conducted over the past year on the platform indicated that over 300 victims comprising of 80 percent, female staff and 90 percent of students at Makerere University had never reported sexual harassment inflicted on them.

Professor Grace Bantebya Kyomuhendo, the Kick Sexual Harassment out of Higher Education Institutions project investigator noted that with the launch of the system, institutions should consider incorporating a course unit on sexual harassment across each discipline.

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