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Sexual harassment: real or imagined problem - Vanguard News


This study is an attempt to examine the ethical implication of sexual harassment among female undergraduate students on campus in university of Port Harcourt, River State. The moral fabric that holds the tertiary institutions is seriously eroded as a result of prevalence sexual harassment of female undergraduates. Four research questions and two hypotheses were formulated to guide the study. The researcher used “Sexual Harassment of Female Undergraduate Students Questionnaire” (SHOFUSQ) to collect information for the investigation. A sample of 300 students from the institution was randomly selected and used for the study. Questionnaires were used and the data collected was then subjected to descriptive statistical analysis. The study revealed that majority of the female students in Uniport have experienced sexual harassment (80%) and they equally indicate that lecturers and administrative staff are the leading culprits of sexual harassment.  Similarly, majority of the respondents  agreed  that  sexual  harassment  have  social  and  health  implications  such  as stigma,  depression,  poor  academic  performance,  loss  of  esteem,  contracting  sexually transmitted  infections,  contracting  HIV/AIDS,  loss  of  womb,  unwanted  pregnancy  and abortion,  among  others. The study concluded by proposing some recommendation that will eradicate sexual harassment if religious followed.

                                           CHAPTER ONE


  1. Background of the study

The ethical implication of sexual harassment among female undergraduate students is one of the most depressing experience in the lives of it victims. Sexual harassment constitutes acts such as unwelcome sexual advances which can have psychological effects on female undergraduate students. The ethical implications of sexual harassment are concerned with questions of what is acceptable and unacceptable within our tertiary institutions from the perspective of female students. Sexual harassment issues has taken a different dimension since the advent of the 21st century in worship centers, workplace and even in both secondary and tertiary institutions (Lynch, 2013).

Sexual harassment  is  an  unwanted sexual advances,  requests  for sexual favour, physical,  verbal  or  nonverbal  conducts which make submission or rejection of such conduct either in an explicit or implicit form such  as  threats,  intimidation,  taunting, unwanted  touching,  unwanted  kissing, phonography,  among  others.  Therefore, sexual  harassment  can  be  understood  from the  point  of  view  of  rejection  and  protest from the affected person or victim (Numhauser-Henning & Laulom, 2012). World Health Organization defines sexual harassment as any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts of traffic, or otherwise directed, against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim some time in her life (who, 1999).

Sexual  harassment  is  a social  phenomenon  that  is  no  longer confined to  western countries, but  Africa as a  continent  and  Nigeria  is not excluded. In  Nigeria,  sexual harassment has become a  contemporary issue  and  prevalent in  the  Nigerian  universities  and  it cuts  across  all  cultures  and  faiths. The studies of Nwadialor and Rotimi,(2013); Okeyo (2014) and Idris, Adaja, Audu and Aye, (2016) posit that sexual  harassment has become  order of the day  in Nigerian  university campuses as  a result  of  its  level  of  occurrences  and complaints received from mostly female victims. They also observed  that  the  recent  stories  of  sexual harassment  coming  out  from  the  Nigerian tertiary  institutions  known  as  fortress  of academic  and  moral  excellence  is  not encouraging and highly disturbing due to the high  rate  of  reported  cases  of  sexual harassment  among  female  students  that  is detrimental  to  the  development  of  the Nigerian  educational  system  politically, socially and economically (Adaja, Audu & Aye, 2016).

Sexual harassment is a topical phenomenon in tertiary institutions in Nigeria. Sexual harassment of female students in tertiary institutions in Nigeria in  general may not  be over emphasized  due to  its  negative consequences  on  the victims such  as  psychological  pain,  melancholy, stigma among others. Since the social  phenomenon of sexual harassment  is on the increase in most of  our  tertiary  institutions  in  Nigeria, and  couple  with the  challenges  of  Boko  Haram  insurgency that  condemned  the  modern  system  of education.  It  is  worth  noting  that  sexual harassment  is  one  of  the  challenges  to sustainable  economic,  social  and  political development  of  the  nation called  Nigeria. Hence,  for  a  meaningful  sustainable development  to  be achieved  in Nigerian education  sector,  harassment  of  female students  must  be  approached  with  all seriousness.  It  is  imperative  therefore  to equip female  students in tertiary institutions with  abundant  information  which  will  help them protect themselves  against  sexual harassment. Thus, this research intends to investigate the ethical implication of sexual harassment among female undergraduate students on campus in university of Port Harcourt, River State.

Female Students Speak On Nigerian Tertiary Institutions' Lackadaisical  Attitude To Sexual Harrasment On Campus – Woman.NG

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Sexual harassment is no more a new social phenomenon in Nigerian tertiary institutions. It has become a common deviant practices in most of the tertiary institutions in Nigeria. In a  recent  study,  it  was  reported  that  sexual harassment  in  education  is  higher  in countries  with  weak  educational  systems, low  levels  of  accountability, high  level of poverty and gender inequality. It was further discovered that sexual harassment is more prevalent in institutions where educators are poorly trained, underpaid and severely under sourced (Beninger, 2013; Lynch, 2013 and Sharma, 2013). Tertiary institutions are ivory towers where academic and moral excellence are expected to be promoted. However, with the high incidence of sexual harassment of female students of tertiary institutions and its consequences on the victims, the issue of sexual harassment is likely to be a serious threat to achieving the girl child education in Nigeria. It is worth noting that sexual harassment in tertiary institutions has become the order of the day and constitute serious menace to the development of educational system in Nigeria in particular. Therefore, it  is pertinent  to  note  that  sexual harassment  is  a  threatening  social phenomenon in Nigerian educational  sector; which  has  severe  psychological  and  social consequences  on  the  victims  as  well  as economic and  political  consequences on the nation in achieving sustainable development. Thus, it is imperative as a matter of urgency and national interest, to arrest the problem of sexual harassment of female students in tertiary institutions in River State.

Sexual assault and the culture of silence in Nigeria | ICWA

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The primary objective of this study is to examine ethical implication of sexual harassment among female undergraduate students on campus in university of Port Harcourt, River State. The specific objectives are:

  1. To investigate the prevalence, nature and social implications of sexual harassment among female students of university of Port Harcourt, River State.
  2. To determine the pattern and health consequences of sexual harassment among undergraduate female students in the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
  3. To examine what instigates the urge for sexual harassment of female undergraduate in the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
  4. To proffer possible remedies to the challenges of sexual harassment in Nigerian universities.

1.4 Research Questions

This study will be guided by the following research questions

  1. Are the perpetrators of female undergraduate student’s sexual harassment usually the male lecturers and students?
  2. Are there ethical implications of sexual harassment on female undergraduate students in the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State?
  3. What are the pattern and health consequences of sexual harassment among undergraduate female students in the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State?
  4. Are there laid down strategies by government to curb menace of sexual harassment of students in higher institutions in Nigeria?

1.5 Significance of the Study

The finding of this present study will enlighten both the students, lecturers and government on measures to take to avoid sexual harassment in higher institutions in Nigeria.

To the female students it will inculcate in them the habit of a modest dress sense that will keep their body covered at all times. They will also be cautioned on visiting the office of male lecturers at the appropriate time to avoid sexual harassment and they should know their right.

To the lecturers the study will remind them to caution students to refrain from visiting their offices at odd hours.

To the government the findings of the study will motivate the formulation of a zero tolerance policy towards sexual harassment in higher institutions in Nigeria.

It is conceived that the study will also be of great importance to researcher who are in need of information on similar field. Finally, the study will also be of great importance to lecturers, teacher’s students and the general public.

1.6 Scope and limitation of the study

The scope of the study shall cover ethical implication of sexual harassment among female undergraduate students on campus in University of Port Harcourt, River State. However, the study has some constrained and limitations which are:

  • Availability of research material: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study.
  • Time: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.
  • Finance: The finance available for the research work does not allow for wider coverage as resources are very limited as the researcher has other academic bills to cover.

1.7 Definition of terms


The conclusion that can be drawn from something although it is not explicitly stated.

Sexual harassment

It involves the making of unwanted sexual advances or obscene remarks (typically of a woman) in a workplace or other professional or social situation.

Tertiary Education

In this study, tertiary education is defined as education received by students in universities, polytechnics and colleges of education.

Undergraduate Students

A student in a university or college who has not received a first, esp. a bachelor’s, degree.



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