“I think I am suffering a nervous breakdown. I cannot believe people are defending Professor Gyampo” a friend said. “I am one of his victims. This is why people like us never come out with our stories, no one ever believes us” she lamented.
This is the kind of stress and anxiety, often without support, that many victims of sexual harassment have to endure.
Professor Gyampo has been recently filmed in an investigative journalism piece by the BBC titled ‘Sex for Grades’. I brought up the exposé with another female friend, who attended the University of Ghana, and she said “That’s what he is known for, it is his stock-in-trade. He has tried to get with one of my friends too”.
Students who have been victims of sexual harassment across centres of scholarship need to speak up. This appears to be a disturbing issue that too many female students have had to put up with. Complaints are an opportunity to improve the culture of scholarship and avoid further cases arising.
But academic institutions must also do more to protect the rights of students, especially females. Time is up. It doesn’t matter if it affects the brand of the university or disrupts the management structure. What is most important is that, by rooting out sexual predators from academic institutions, there is an environment free from sexual harassment that allows women to operate to their full potential, without fear or favour.
This means strengthening human resource and compliance departments with the right expertise to tackle sexual harassment and committing adequate resources towards investigations, as well as soliciting the support of external advisers. A reputation of staff dealing with allegations fairly and properly is also crucial to the prevention of sexual harassment. When offenders are not held to account, they become emboldened and this puts more female students at risk.