College students cry sexual abuse by lecturers, ‘blessers’   

ZINASU report highlights abuses on financially distressed scholars

By Caleb Chikwawawa

Female college students struggling to pay their fees say they are facing continued exploitation by lecturers and “blessers” taking advantage of their dire situation.

According to findings of a report carried out by the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU), sexual abuse was top of the concerns raised by students solicited for their contributions on challenges experienced in their college lives.

Findings of the report were unveiled on Tuesday at a multi-stakeholder engagement meeting for Higher and Tertiary Education in Harare.

The meeting, hosted by the student activist group, was attended by parliamentarians, student representatives and Education Coalition of Zimbabwe representatives.

Presenting findings of a research carried out by his organisation, ZINASU president Emmanuel Sitima highlighted sexual exploitation as a major problem faced by female students.

“We have seen that financial insecurities and stress associated with fees payment were found to adversely affect the academics with female students being particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse due to financial difficulties.

“It’s real, the issue of ‘blessers’ is happening in campuses.

“The issue of lecturers abusing our female students simply because they need that financial support, is something that is true.

“This issue was backed by the students themselves when we went and have discussions and caucuses with them.

“I think we shared about 671 questionnaires that we shared with the students.

“That was the sentiment that at times female students are being abused simply because they are not able to pay tuition; so, they are now transacting sexual favours with some cash to actually cater for their tuition and accommodation on campus.

“It’s something that is really affecting students across the country.

“We had student caucuses across the country.

“I think a minimum of 250 students are attending these caucuses and sentiments are just the same during these caucuses that issues of fee structure is something that we cannot afford to take lightly.”

After hearing these issues, the Education Coalition of Zimbabwe representative said that they have finalised the anti-sexual harassment policy and are only left with launching it.

“I’m happy that the research that was shared today pointed out some issues of interest, which is part of our advocacy issues.

“We work directly with institutions when we are invited, specifically for orientations because one of the areas is that the learning environments are safe as students.

“We are happy that the anti-sexual harassment policy which has been a topical issue during Covid up to today has been finalised.

“What is left is the launching of this customised for the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, which is looking at the relationship of students, wardens, lecturers and vice versa because the national sexual harassment policy was looking at the aspect of focusing on the employer and employee perspective.

“The anti-sexual harassment policy is looking at the aspect of the college set-up that we are talking about, how we can protect the students, how we can protect the lecturer, how we can protect the students during attachments.

“We are hoping that the anti-sexual harassment policy, the benchmarking one for the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education should be launched in all the provinces.

“We are going to look forward to have each and every institution in Zimbabwe have their anti-sexual harassment policy being uploaded on their website so that they protect the students,” said Chitiga.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button