Posted on: Jan 23,2016
Dire Dawa University has hosted a one day panel discussion entitled ‘Community Conversation on Gender Based Violence and Sexual Harassment on Female Students’ on Dec 12, 2015 at conference hall with the nearby community.
The community discussion aimed at creating the public agenda to work together with stakeholders to prevent and respond to instances of sexual assault.
On this workshop organized by the office of DDU’s Cross Cutting Issues’ Office in collaboration with Women, Youth and Children of Dire Dawa City Administration Office, many topics have been discussed ranging from the recognition of the reasons behind sexual harassment of female students to the role of stakeholders in responding harassment situations.
On the presence of community members, Dire Dawa City Administration Offices’ employees, religious leaders, media institutions, student delegates, university leaders and staffs, and all other invited guests, Dr. Girma Goro has officially started the program with opening speech.
In his statement he welcomed all invited guests for their presence in the panel discussion. Acknowledging the government’s efforts in empowering women at every level of the society, the president remind the audience that female students are still facing challenges which hindered them from success.
According to the president’s speech, gender based violence and sexual harassment is among the challenges facing the women now a days. He forwarded many examples of sexual harassment practices which had been practiced in and out of the Ethiopian Universities. He mentioned for instance, the role of unethical brokers who are mediating female students to the Sugar Daddies (meaning-a wealthy older men who give a young person expensive gifts in return for friendship or intimacy), and instructors harassing female students for grade exchange.
In correcting such wrongdoings, he told to the community that the University has been taking educative measures on the academic and supportive staff on those who have been found guilty of committing unethical behaviors. As he further noted despite actions were being taken, female students had been hesitant to report the occurrence of sexual misconduct and sexual assault.
Concluding his speech, he said, “Since you are the main actors who could make a difference, I am hopeful that you will get more involved in prevention efforts, to learn more about the complexities involved in these issues, and to remain informed of the support services offered by this forum”.
Then after, Mrs. Selamawit, Director for Cross Cut-ting Issues of the University, has explained in her pa-per presentation that Sexual violence manifests sexually aggressive acts by the use of physical or mental force which reduces a person to an inferior position to impose sexual conduct against their will. This is an act that fundamentally seeks to bring the body to a weak point and go against the will of the person.
In her comprehensive presentation, she pointed out every details and the overall assumption of sexual harassment on female students. She finally invited the participants to forward their feeling regarding the issue at stake. In discussion session many panelists forwarded their comments, suggestions, points and remarks to which their ideas should be incorporated, and/or considered.
After discussing different aspects of harassment, panelists agreed up on forming the forum where which they use the forum as a battle ground for fighting sexual violence.