10.10.2019 Feature Article

Sex for Grades: The mission and the moral barometer

Amankwa Benjamin KwameAmankwa Benjamin Kwame
10.10.2019 LISTEN

I have spent at least two hours watching the “sex for grades” documentary by the BBC Africa eye team. Reporter Kiki Mordi narrated how she could not graduate from her dream profession because of sexual harassment. Other members of the team seem to have their individual experiences with sexual harassment and are internally motivated to undertake their mission.

Over the years, both victims and witnesses narrate the ordeal of our young ladies in universities across Africa. Married, respected and influential lecturers lure young ladies into unescapable traps for their sexual gratification. This phenomenon, many have said if not checked will not only destroy our young ladies but have negative implications for our tertiary education and society as a whole.

Dedicated Kiki Mordi and the rest of the Africa eye team need to be commended for the attempt to point the realities of sexual harassment in our universities to the public. Their efforts is not only significant in terms of drawing public attention but it will also put lecturers and tutors who prioritise the zips of their trousers more than their professional competencies on the alert at least. The team displayed courage, intelligence, determination and dexterity in carrying out their mission. What was lacking however in the whole documentary was professionalism and evidence beyond reasonable doubt especially against professor Gyampo of University of Ghana, Legon that he had indeed engaged in a “sex for grade” scandal.

It is not my intention to throw overboard the horrors of sexual harassment, neither is it my intention to defend any that commits act or acts that contravene the ethics and rules of his or her profession. I believe however that the way and manner some parts of the recording was done lacks professionalism, experience and admittance in the court of law.

Public opinion, history has demonstrated, favours acts of heroism and valour but the opinion of courts are based on evidence and facts. Whilst the documentary is performing excellently in the public debate, it will be next to impossible for the same documentary to be admitted, used, and form the basis of prosecution in a court of law.

I am no lawyer, I do not pretend to be one but a meeting at a public place, a comment on kissing a young lady who willingly is out with me, a request to purchase and the purchase of a high hill shoes, and a request for a hug as a parting memory in my opinion is within the remits of the laws of Ghana. For the University of Ghana for example, the issue of ethics might arise but even that is debatable.

While we must blame lecturers and tutors in institutions of higher learning who use their positions of influence to harass, manipulate and kill the ambitions of young ladies and punish them for abuse of power, it is important we realise that “modernism” has brought in its wake certain acts that are termed normal but which are the cause of some of our moral problems. A young lady who hitherto cannot look into the eyes of her father’s age mate can now tell such a person the number of nostrils in his nose. It’s a moral problem. The moral fiber of most African societies is broken as a result of the blind copying of foreign culture. Taboos are no longer relevant to the youth of our generation because they are deemed local and archaic. How do we cut the branch we seat on and expect not to fall?

As I indicated earlier, I do not intend to justify any act that is bad, it is important however for the sake of correction to look at all aspects of an issue before taking a decision. We must revisit decency in our tertiary institutions and insist on same.

The documentary is laudable and the team must be praised, the contents of the documentary must be investigated and appropriate sanctions if any meted out to any found culpable. However, it is very important to admonish the BBC to look at this documentary again, correct the gaps, train and retrain professionals to engage in investigative journalism so that their efforts will not just be stories in the public domain but admitted in court. This will make more impact and make society a better place to be. By the way, how many scandals has the BBC investigated and published in Europe?

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