Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Gulu University on Wednesday launched its anti-sexual harassment policy aimed at detecting, preventing and addressing cases of sexual harassment as well as protecting the victims.
The policy was formulated in partnership with Makerere University Gender Mainstreaming Directorate with financial support from UN Women, under the Safer Universities Project launched in 2019 in response to the call under the European Union and United Nation spotlight initiative on eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls.
Dr. Christine Oyrema, one of the team members who formulated the policy says all complaints of sexual harassment from both students and staff shall be received by the sexual harassment focal point person at the University who shall notify the office of the vice chancellor to commission the investigative process.
She says the investigative team shall carryout investigations with independence, objectivity and with due diligence and respect for the rights of both the compliant and the respondent and that cases duly investigated shall be referred to the internal university disciplinary systems for action.
According to Oryema, a staff or student found guilty of sexual harassment is liable to dismissal, suspension, public apology to the institution or the aggrieved person, demotion or any other penalty deemed appropriate by the existing internal University disciplinary systems.
David Okello Owiny, the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Gulu University says sexual harassment is an individual indiscipline and that all the perpetrators shall be dealt with accordingly.
Gloria Lamaro, the Vice Chairperson of Gulu University Academic Staff Association says the policy is long awaited and that the academic staff of the University are committed to ensuring that there is zero tolerance to sexual harassment at the University.
Calvin Okello, the representative of the Senior Administrative Staff says the policy should be popularized among all the staff so that none of them become a victim or perpetrator of the vice.
He also appealed to the University’s top management to report all sexual harassment cases professionally and without fear or favour.
Evelyn Drichiru, a student of Gulu University pursuing Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture and Environment says once implemented, the policy shall promote an environment where students can interact freely with the lecturers without fear of being harassed sexually.
She appealed to the female students to desist from wearing inappropriate dresses that may tempt the male lecturers and students into sexual acts.
Mahmud Khalid, the Gulu University Spokesperson revealed that the anti-sexual harassment policy shall be implemented alongside other legal frameworks like gender policy, safeguarding policy, whistleblowing policy, human resource manual and student’s rules and guidelines to ensure that the University is a safer place for all.