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Opinions of Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Columnist: Doreen Hammond

Sex for grades and hard work

The writer The writer

Over the past few weeks, the media has been saturated with news, features and comments about sexual harassment, defilement and rape.

This followed the airing of a documentary by the BBC on the subject of sexual harassment with the title: Sex for Grades.

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The documentary used cases recorded in the University of Ghana and the University of Lagos in Nigeria involving two professors to buttress the point.

The producer of the documentary claims she was harassed in such a manner that it caused her to drop out of school.

While some have critiqued the documentary as a piece not meeting best journalistic standards as a result of the method it employed by using fake students as baits, others have hailed it as a piece of work which has drawn public attention to a canker which has plagued our tertiary institutions for a long time and needs to be addressed.

Though the issue is not new in our society, what I find new is the sticking of real faces to the phenomenon which has largely been rumours until now.

The downside of this discussion to me, however, is the stereotyping of females as people who cannot achieve anything on merit unless they are favoured over males and by males.

The male student is equipped with a brain to make it on his own but not the beautiful female!

The female is seen as a no-brainer in our society so that her achievements in whatever field is often attributed to other factors rather than merit and hard work.

This negative generalisation and portrayal has been with us since time immemorial to the extent that, during the Acheampong regime, the term “fa wo to begye golf” was coined.

To wit, the only way a woman could own a Golf car was by sleeping with men. Yet, even at that time of our history, there were industrious women who could even own a ship if they wanted to.

Throughout our history, females have rubbed shoulders with their male counterparts in various fields of endeavour such as the classrooms, business, politics, sports among many other fields and often times excelled, but never given the due credit.

And so sadly today, if one met a beautiful girl with a good grade, one would be tempted to believe that she got it through the back door rather than merit.

Yet during speech and prize-giving days, even in primary schools where most girls may not have much to offer, we have all been witnesses to how girls have swept prizes, sometimes all of them even in classes where males are in the majority.

They have done this in spite of challenges posed by our cultural socialisation, which places all domestic chores on their heads, while most boys have a field day playing football and being served.

The hard work of women in our political history and other sectors of work has been downplayed by many in spite of the general challenges they have faced combining and creating a balance between family and work. Did they all reach this stage through sex for favours? Certainly not!

That is why I think that the impression created is most unfortunate and must be reversed. We should condemn sexual harassment in all shapes and forms and eradicate it in all spheres of our lives.

We should map out strategies to prevent our young girls from falling into such traps.

This should include the protection of females-including empowering them to speak out and seek justice to reduce the incidence.

Parents should also provide the needs of their daughters and give them every encouragement and support to excel.

We should also highlight proudly, women and girls who are making it and have made it as a way of motivating other females to know that they do not need to succumb to such favours to become achievers.

Many girls and women are making a difference on merit and to such, we must salute and doff off our hats!

Let our comments, news, features, remarks and discussions highlight such role models for the benefit of other girls to encourage them to make it on their own, even as we devise ways and means to eradicate sexual harassment and its related issues from our society.

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