January 12, 2017 By Patrick Jaiah Kamara
Access to Justice Coordinator for the Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law (CARL), Moses Massa has said in a presser that they wanted the 2007 Sexual Offences Act be reviewed so that the act of soliciting sex for grades in learning institutions would be a punishable offence.
Speaking yesterday at their Upper Brook Street office in Freetown, Massa said the Centre has signed an agreement with the Canadian Fund for Local Initiative (CFLI) to implement a six-month project that would involve a survey into the prevalence of the act of soliciting sex for grades from female students by teachers and lecturers in learning institutions in Sierra Leone.
He said they were embarking on the survey because there have been widespread allegations about teachers and lecturers engaged in soliciting sexual favour from female students for grades.
He noted that the Sexual Offence Act of 2012 prohibit sex without consent or sexual conduct with people under the age of eighteen but that there was nothing about teachers or lecturers engaging in sex with female students for grades.
“We are conducting this survey to get evidence that such is prevalence in learning institutions. CARL believes the act undermines the opportunity of acquiring quality education by students and fair grading system to demonstrate their competence in the future,” he said.
The Access to Justice Coordinator stated that to ensure the effectiveness of the survey, they have set up a hotline (232 77 666222) for female students to call or send SMS to complain sexual harassment and abuse, a jingle production on key messages against the practice, research and raise advocacy on the Sexual laws to criminalise the act.
He averred that human rights violations of women and girls were not unique in Sierra Leone; especially sexual harassment in learning institutions, which he said was on the increase.
“It has never been clear why this is so, but the act has become a social problem. We hope that people will take this as an opportunity for Sierra Leone to acquire effective policies to support female students and promote prevention of sexual harassments,” he said.
Massa said the survey, which started in December, 2016 would end in February, 2017 and that their finding would be presented to the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, the Attorney General, and the Ministry of Education Science and Technology, so that robust action would be taken to review the 2007 Sexual Offences Act.