Recently, a victim of sexual harassment at Makerere University in Uganda disclosed how she had been abused sexually by a lecturer at the university. The attempted rape she suffered tore her future into tatters.
Monica - not her real name - spoke to the BBC narrating the rot at the university when it comes to such matters, recounting her horror experience and how justice was delayed in addressing the matter. After she had swapped her courses at Makerere University, she was determined to catch up. Help presented itself in the way (which would turn out to be catastrophic) as a lecturer told her that she would help her catch up.
She called him and made an appointment for Monday before class, but he insisted on Sunday. The thought of a private tutor at this point would ease her problems. But it would be the genesis of anguish, disappointment and horror. At the appointed time, he was not at the agreed location.
"I walked there, only for him to say I was late and he had left, and that I should meet him somewhere else. When he eventually arrived, he asked me to follow him," she says. "That is how he tricked me into going to his place of residence."
As she recounted her ordeal, the pain was visible. "I expected that we would get down to my class work. Instead, he attempted to rape me." She went on to say that she thwarted his malicious intentions through some scant information from the Girl Guides she could remember. "I had been trained that if a man attempts to rape you, you have to calm down, be submissive, then raise your leg and kick them where it hurts hardest. And that is what I did," she said.
Being critical of the importance of evidence, she managed to take a few pictures of the room. She thought she had done the most stupid thing in her life, but she did not wallow in self-pity. She filed a report, but help was not being proffered.
As she shared her story with other classmates, she realized many girls had horrific encounters with the same man. "Most girls will not report this because no-one believes them," Monica says. Everyone thinks you got yourself into it." She fell behind her studies since she was no longer able to attend lectures, feeling a lack of support from the institution.
She pursued her case, writing to the vice-chancellor about what had happened. A university senate committee was formed to investigate her case. "[They] demanded that I prove there was an environment of sexual harassment. I had to bring to them evidence that I was harassed by this lecturer. I had taken pictures. I presented that to them. I spoke to them about my experience. And at one point, I asked that if they doubted what I was telling them, I needed to face it off with the lecturer before the committee - which was never granted."
The university's policy is that cases of sexual harassment are supposed to be investigated and disposed after three months. But she got a response after seven months. In the period between, the university kept harassing her, calling her names. "They called me stupid," she said. She was warned that she would leave the course.
Eventually, she was told the investigation had concluded that there had been "an environment of sexual harassment". She was therefore re-instated in her programme, and told she could go back to class. But that meant that she would be going back to the same lecturer who had tried to abuse her, so she turned down the offer, and has never resumed her studies.
Of late, the university has come under fire for reports of sexual harassment. It is a major cause of discontent at the university. Reports that a lecturer promised higher grades to a student in return for sexual favours also created huge controversy.