KINGSTON – It is a problem which has plagued the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, for years: sexual harassment and other gender-based violence on the halls.
Last year, the university advertised for someone to take up a post of counsellor/sexual harassment adviser to deal with sexual violence on the campus. However, our news team was unable to confirm if someone had been found to fill the post.
Sunday Gleaner sources said the campus, with 70 per cent of its population being females, is a haven for those who assault and harass women.
The sources said female students, particularly those who live on the campus, have been subjected to various forms of violence.
But, responding to questions, the administration at the university said it is not aware of wide-scale cases of gender-based violence on campus.
“Where cases are reported, the matter is investigated and disciplinary action taken against perpetrators,” stated the administration.
“While the Mona campus is unaware of deliberate gender-based violence, the UWI, Mona, recognises the need to provide avenues for students to manage conflict of any kind, given the wider societal context, and has implemented
a number of measures to address the matter.”
The university also pointed to its sexual harassment policy and efforts to develop a safety and awareness campaign to address the issues surrounding safety.
However, Taitu Herron, development specialist and gender analyst with the United Nations Development Programme, chronicled some of the reported cases of violence against women on the campus in her study Whose Business Is It? Violence Against Women at UWI, Mona.
In the study, she noted that while violence against female students was not unique to UWI, Mona, on other campuses around the world, the issue is given high priority, which is not the case at UWI.
Herron charged that instances of rape of female students on campus by persons known to them was highlighted by a student group called Society for the Upliftment of Women via Education as early as 2007, yet instead of working with that group to find solutions, the administration sanctioned members of the group for takingthe issue public. (Gleaner)