Malawi Activists Probing On University Sex for Grade Scandals

9 December 2019

Women activists have said they are investigating allegations of female students being coaxed into sexual acts with lecturers in exchange for grades.

The Women's Chapter of Human Rights Defenders Coalition Chairperson, Dorothy Ngoma says issues of sex scandals in universities are real, hence need for serious corrective measure.

"I went around the country in the colleges and hospitals talking to students, lecturers and clinical staff about this. This is a serious gender issue no university is spared on the matter, including other nursing colleges.

"Unfortunately it is about power and who holds it determine what they will do with it and why," Ngoma said.

She said the situation is like this while respective constitutions of all the country's public universities protect students from abuses including sex.

"The power of the lecturer to form and mark examinations for the course he or she personally taught must be removed and be replaced with examinations prepared, administered and marked by an examination board if we are to sanitise the grades and end these sexual abuses," Ngoma said.

Commenting on the matter, NGO Gender Coordination Network Chairperson, Emma Kaliya described the alleged reports of abuse as sad, saying female students don't want to disclose these issues on various reasons.

"Fearing being laughed at and making their academic papers valueless, female students are tight lipped. But this issue is real and it's a global concern. We are investigating on these matters," said Kaliya.

Activist Emma Chanika said it is a great failure by the society for female students in universities to continue being forced into sexual relationships with lecturers for good marks in this era.

"We have failed. Activists, national organisations, non-governmental organisations and the religious communities have failed because we don't give attention to the university girls and talk to them and advise on how to deal or prevent such issues," she said.

She urged the media and all writers to write columns and books on such matters as they can hold great powers to pin these matters down.

Recently, College of Medicine (COM) issued a press release following allegations on social media about sexual harassment of staff and students at college.

"As a constituent college of the University of Malawi (UNIMA), we are guided by UNIMA's Gender Equality Policy which clearly stipulates in sections 6.2.2 and 6.3.3 that there should be zero tolerance on sexual harassment and abhorrent and no human deserves to go through this," reads part of the press statement.

The college's administration further said it had instituted an independent inquiry into the allegations to establish the facts.

COM's Acting Registrar, Stuart Chirambo refused to divulge more information on how many lecturers are being probed at the college, saying that could affect investigations.

"I am afraid to pre-empt on what stage we are now. We are still having some areas undone and may not tell when exactly the inquiry ends. But the disciplinary committee will not spare anyone found guilty," Chirambo said.

'Sexually Transmitted Grades' in universities have also hit headlines in Ghana and Nigeria recently after the BBC documentary exposed that female students offer sex to lecturers for good grades.

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