UNIPORT takes position against sexual harassment, rolls out policy

PORT HARCOURT (Sundiata Scholar) – The University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) has announced implementation of its policy on sexual harassment across all campuses.

Prof. Owunari Georgewill, the Vice Chancellor of the institution, made this known at a news conference organised by the Youths Friendly Centre (YFC) in Port Harcourt on Tuesday.

He said that the new policy now empowers students to confidently report cases of sexual harassment, enabling the institution to take legal action against offenders.“

Today, UNIPORT has enhanced its approach to addressing sexual harassment on campus by introducing a comprehensive policy that clearly defines what constitutes sexual harassment.“It defines who a victim and perpetrator are, the circumstances under which it occurs, and the proper channels for seeking help.“

Though there were laws against sexual harassment in the university, they were just verbal agreements lacking formal documentation on the specifics of sexual misconduct,” he said.Georgewill, who was represented by the institution’s Deputy Vice Chancellor, Administration, Prof.

Clifford Ofurum, expressed confidence that the policy would effectively combat sexual abuse within the campus community.

He asserted that with the domestication and documentation of this policy, it would no longer be business as usual for offenders in the university.“

This policy is a step in the right direction that sends a clear message of warning to perpetrators who abuse students.“

The document is being made available to everyone to comprehend what it entails, so that no one can pretend not to understand the consequences of sexual harassment.“

Student are encouraged to report cases of sexual harassment against them to enable management of the university take appropriate actions,” he added.

The Acting Director of Youths Friendly Centre, Dr Iroro Yarhere, urged victims of sexual abuse to courageously identify and report lecturers and staff who engage in inappropriate behaviour.

He disclosed that though the policy was established in 2019, there had been a lack of comprehensive awareness campaigns within the university to educate students and staff about its provisions.

According to him, reporting incidents of sexual misconduct to the university authorities was crucial in preventing future occurrences and ensuring that perpetrators face strict sanctions.“

Many students fear that reporting sexual harassment may lead to further victimisation, social stigma, maltreatment, academic consequences, among others.“To tackle these reservations, today’s initiative aims not only at documentation but at creating awareness about sexual harassment,”

he emphasised.Yarhere assured victims of complete confidentiality and support services from the centre, emphasising the utmost importance of protecting the identities of victims. (NAN)