1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Sexual harassment in educational settings is a common problem globally. While it is well addressed in college and university campuses in most developed countries of the world through specific policies and mechanism of enforcement. It remains a taboo topic in African colleges and universities particularly in Nigeria
In view of this, sexual harassment has posed a tremendous challenge to female both in the work place and educational setting and this problem has affected their effectiveness in their various academic fields. However, literature reports that sexual harassment has impacted female’s self-esteem as well as their academic , social and psychological well being (Ladebo, 2005, Mashingaidze, 2006 and Poporich, 2008). The awareness of the impact of sexual harassment on females existence has led to multiple approaches in the definition of sexual harassment across cultures, ethnicity, race and settings.
According to Ademolekun (1989) sexual harassment in Nigeria’s universities appears to be under researched and even less reported. However, the commission on the review of Higher Education in Nigeria (CRHEN) (1991) suggests that the phenomenon is gradually assuming critical dimensions in Nigeria’s higher institutions. A study of four Nigerian universities reveals that students identified sexual harassment as being among the stressors hindering academic work in the sample of universities (Ladebo, 2001). This contentious issue came to the fore in 2001, when the nation’s president, General Olusegun Obansanjo in apparent disregard of protocol during an official engagement, ridiculed the Nigerian university teachers for being unproductive pleasure seekers who sees the female students as sex objects for self gratification.
Despite the above efforts and measured by various instruments, sexual harassment means different things to different people. However, before the problem can be addressed, one needs to understand its meaning, nature and scope. Unfortunately, defining sexual harassment is not simple. Defining what is sufficiently severe, persuasive or objectively offensive can be complicated. People disagree on the severity of the problem. What is a laughing matter for one student, maybe offensive to another and traumatic to yet another, especially in a university community which teams with students and staff from diverse backgrounds.
The problem of definings sexual harassment is likely to discourage victims from reporting incidents and make it difficult for institutions to draw the line between flirting playful courtship and sexual harassment. Houreld (2006) found that eighty (80) percent of female in Nigeria higher education institutions reported sexual harassment as their greatest challenge in the successful completion of their academic goals. Adedokun (2004) and Ejiogu and Onyene (2000) also found that above eighty-six (86) of male faculty and staff in the sample universities in Nigeria have sexually harassed female students at one point in their teaching career.
To date, the same general principles that apply to sexual harassment in the work place also apply in academic settings. In additions, there is difficulty drawing the line between sexual harassment and intimate consensual relations (Hutchens, 2003). A reviewed by Hutchens (2003) as well discussed that even through institutions of higher educations have established policies regarding consensual relationship between students and faculty, the area as a matter of law is still considered “gray”. In general, sexual harassment of students in colleges and universities “Increasingly justified disciplinary actions against a faculty or staff member generally under a charge of unethical conduct” (cole 1986).
Therefore, to facilitate a frontal attack on the problem, there is need for some agreement on what constitutes sexual harassment. Thus, this study will focuses on the challenge of defining sexual harassment. It is assumed that the victims and potential victims are in a good position to provide information on those acts / gestures that they have experienced or perceived as constituting sexual harassment. As vicarious and witnesses of sexual harassment, respondents were expected to express their reaction and suggest possible solutions.
- STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Sexual harassment is an in disciplinary problem which negatively affects. Adams, Kohiker and Padgitt (1983) expressed that sexual harassment of students by lecturers has become a controversial issue facing college and university administrations in the last several years. However, the problem which is a pervasive one is difficult to pin down because of the different manifestations. Identifying an incident as an instance of sexual harassment requires some special combinations of variables. This is so because there seems to be discrepancy in peoples’ perception as to what types of interactions constitutes sexual harassment. Females, for example categories more behaviors as constituting sexual harassment that male (Wilson and Krans, 1981).
In a nutshell, it appears that sexual harassment in educational institutions and workplace can be understood and defined in many different ways making it all the more complicated to prevent and address the issue. Its definition is problematic, with no consensus as to what constitutes sexual harassment, particularly in Nigeria where little national attention has been paid to the problem. Students are likely to be at loss when a professor’s friendly concern starts to feel like a demand for a sexual relationship that they do not want but are afraid to reject.
Sexual harassment is all too familiar and yet, defies a simple definition, it is therefore expedient to identify and define what constitutes sexual harassment and evolve the definitions from among the targets of sexual harassment in educational institutions. As real and vicarious victims of sexual harassment and as a way of validating their definitions, it is necessary to determine their reaction to the harassing behavior as defined by them. As real vicarious and potential targets, they were likely to suggest solutions to the problem. The behavioral definition of sexual harassment, to be considered sexual harassment, the behavior in question must be:
(1) Sexual in nature or sex-based
(2) Deliberate or repeated
(3) Not welcomed, not asked for, not returned
- OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The general objective of this study is to examine the perception of sexual harassment among undergraduate students .
Specifically, the study aim to:
- Investigate what constitutes sexual harassment among female undergraduate students.
- Evaluate the knowledge of female undergraduate on sexually harassing behavior
- Investigate the influence of sexual harassment on undergraduate in Ekiti-state university
- Formulate recommendation with a view to reduce sexual harassment.
- Examine the cause of sexual harassment.
- SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study is designed to examine how academic field influence the perceived sexual harassment experienced by female undergraduate in Ekiti-State University. To accomplish this task, the study will investigate what constitutes sexual harassment and the knowledge of female undergraduate in an academic field on sexual harassing behaviour.
Thus it is true that the way of sexual harassment is not easy, yet there are thousand who have sexual harassment behind and have become “new creatures” many have married and raised families while others remain celebrate, yet live joyful life.
It was hoped that the study would enable policy makers to create or improve policy initiatives that protect the right of female undergraduate in Ekiti State University and across other higher education institutions.
1.5 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study work shall discuss the concept of sexual harassment, focusing mainly on its prevalence among female undergraduates. The history of sexual harassment shall be traced from the inception to the present.
The gathering of views on the subject matter shall be restricted to Ekiti State university with reference to female undergraduate from each of the Faculty and department of students.
1.6 DEFINITION OF TERM
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is defined in this study as unwelcome sexually determined behaviour, physical, showing of pornography and sexual demands whether by words or by actions that constitutes a health and safety problem, which when objected could disadvantage the victim in her connection with her students including recruitment or promotion, or create a hostile study environment (United Nations General Recommendation into the convention on the elimination of all forms or Discrimination Against women).
Sexual Harassment is defined as unwanted physical or verbal sexual behaivour that occur in the context of a relationship of unequal power and is experience as a threat to the victims job or education activities (Martin, 1989).
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