Sex taboos broken

June 14, 2002

The law faculty at Uganda's Makerere University has taken on cultural taboos by condemning sexual harassment and outlining penalties for those who commit it.

The move comes after female students were raped and follows complaints that lecturers have demanded sex for marks.

The policy defines sexual harassment as "unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature" by academics, university employees or students.

Sexual harassment also includes unwanted non-verbal communication, remarks about sexual activities or speculation about sexual experiences.

Punishments for staff include written reprimands, suspension without pay and termination of employment. Students who violate the rules will be barred from receiving their grades.

Uganda has made progress in protecting women and children against sexual abuse, with death as the ultimate penalty for rape, but enforcement remains poor.

It remains to be seen whether the rest of the university will adopt the rules.

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