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Perspective Of Female Students On Sexual Harassment In Village Hostel University Of Jos


Sexual Harassment (SH) which covers a continuum of behavioral patterns ranging from unwanted verbal advances to physical assault constitutes a major reproductive health concern worldwide. In Nigeria, studies have shown that students in institutions of higher learning are vulnerable to SH. However, its prevalence among student nurses has not been adequately explored. This study, therefore, determined the prevalence of SH among students in university of Jos

The descriptive cross-sectional study involved the use of a two-stage sampling technique in selecting 250 consenting female students at different levels of study at UNIJOS. A pre-tested self-administered questionnaire containing information relating to student’s perception and prevalence of SH, types, consequences was used for data collection. Descriptive and Chi-square statistics were used to analyze the data at 0.05 level of significance.

Respondents‘ mean age was 23.0 ± 4.1 years and 78.8% were females. Most respondents (91.2%) perceived SH to be common in the school. Fifty-eight percent of respondents comprising 11.6% males and 46.4% females had ever been sexually harassed. Common SH experienced included: unwanted body contact (79.3%) breast contact (67.6%), enticement (45.5%), attempted rape (39.3%) and unwanted kiss (26.3%). Perceived predisposing factors to SH included suggestive dressing (55.2%) and peer influence (56.0%). The experienced adverse consequences included hatred (80.8%), depression (68.4%), fear of possible reoccurrence (74.8%) and loss of concentration on academics (68.0%).

Significant association existed between respondents‘ perception of prevalence of SH and experience of SH.

Attending parties and wearing suggestive dresses were positively associated with incidence of SH. Though coping strategies adopted by the respondents was reported to be ineffective, the ones peculiar to males included reporting to school authority (72.0%), lecturers (62.1%) and confrontation (55.2%)

Sexual harassment is prevalent among the students, with females being more affected. Institutional based interventions such as sensitization, coping strategy skills development, legislation and punitive policy reviews are needed to address these concerns.



1.0 Chapter One – INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the Study

1.2 Statement of the Problem

1.3 Objectives of the Study

1.4 Research Questions

1.5 Research Hypotheses

1.6 Significance of the Study

1.7 Scope/Limitations of the Study

1.8 Operational Definition of Terms

1.9 Organizational Profile

2.0 Chapter Two-


Chapter Three-


3.1 Research Design

3.2 Population of the Study

3.3 Sample Size and Sampling

3.4 Method of Data Collection

3.5 Validity and Reliability of Research Instrument

3.6 Method of Data Analysis

Chapter Four

4.1 Data presentation

4.2 Data Analysis

4.3 Discussion of Finding

Chapter Five

Summary of findings








1.1 Background to the study 

Sexual harassment has been described as any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours or other physical and expressive behaviour of a sexual nature (Bonnie 2009).  It is a aggravated when (1) such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual‘s employment, academic success and any other right, or (2) Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for academic, employment and other decisions affecting the individual or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual‘s academic or professional performance or of creating an intimidating hostile or offensive environment (Ladebo, 2003). Such unwelcome sexual advances could include unwanted and unwelcomed words, deeds, actions, gestures, symbols, or behaviours of a sexual nature that make the target feel uncomfortable (Critina, 2012).

The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of opposite sex. The harasser can be the victim‘s supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, co-student or a non-employer.The victim may not be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct. Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim. The harasser‘s conduct must be unwelcome (U.S. equal employment opportunity commission). Sexual Harassment may take various forms like visual such as gestures, objects, pictures, posters and pinups; verbal: such as derogatory comments, jokes and demands as well as; physical: unwanted touching coerced kissing and others.(Taiwo,Omole and Omole 2014)

Globally, Sexual harassment has posed a great concern to authorities and governments. Researches have demonstrated the growing prevalence of sexual harassment across the continent, industries and occupations as well as the associated negative outcomes (Corgin and Fish 2009)

In Nigeria, the prevalence of sexual harassment trails the global trend, though sexual harassment in Nigeria appears to be under-researched and even less reported (Ladebo 2003), Kelly (2000) found that both employees and students experience sexual harassment with a proportion of 62 and 43 percent respectively while students (41 percent) are more likely to be the target of unwanted sexual attention than are employees (30 percent).

Sexual harassment existed long before the term was coined in 1975. Sexual harassment in the nursing profession was first reported/observed during Crimean War where by drunken non-commissioned officers; male porters loitering in hospital stairwells, made themselves objectionable to student nurses and maltreatment by male physicians and surgeons (Kaye 2000). According to Kaye, as a predominantly female profession, nursing faces several gender related oppression issue (e.g. understanding, occupational hazards, low job mobility and pay). Nurses continue to experience sexual harassment and hostile work environment despite legislations designed to censure offenders. This type of legislations is however lacking in developing nations (Kaye 2000).

Various researches conducted in different centres at different times reveal high prevalence of SH. For instance , a research  conducted in Isreal (2003) revealed 90% prevalence while in Lima, Peru, sexual harassment was over 50% prevalent (Bronner,2003). Also, in Japan, SH recorded 55% prevalence (Yuri, Keiki and Michion, 2006). In the United Kingdom, a research conducted among students of higher medical schools revealed a 35% prevalence with patients , male doctors and male nurses being the predominant perpetrators (Sava, Finis and Lan 2007).

Sexual harassment in Nigerian Universities appears to be under researched and less reported. The commission on the review of higher education in Nigeria (CRHEN) has suggested that the phenomenon is gradually assuming critical dimension in Nigeria‘s higher education Institution. A study of four Nigerian Universities revealed that students identified sexual harassment as being among the stressors hindering academic work

(Ladebo 2001). Another survey of teachers‘ and students‘ perception of sexual harassment in tertiary institutions in Nigeria revealed that majority of the respondents agreed that SH is prevalent in schools (Aluede, Imokhire  and Idogho .2011).

The consequences of sexual harassment vary from person to person and upon the degree to form of harassment. According to Bonnie (2009), victims of sexual harassment may experience fear, intimidation harassment, shame, and helplessness (Aluede, Imokhire  and Idogho .2011). Researchers have also established other consequences from sexual victimization and or harassment as mental and physical consequences (Careln 2004). Some researchers, who worked on sexual assault also came out with consequences such as fear, anger, depressions, post traumatic stress disorder, suicidal feelings and low self esteem as common with many survivors (Neville, Heppner, Oh, Spanierman, & Clark, 2004).

Reporting culturally sensitive responses by African American who survived sexual assault, Matson (2006) and Campbell & Raja (2005) identified mistrust and negative attitude towards men, avoidance of sexual relationship, self guilt, depression, distrust and reluctance in seeking help probably from the opposite sex as reactions to cases of sexual harassment. As sensitive and painful as sexual harassment and related acts like sexual assault, sexual victimization, sexual violence etc are, there is gross under reporting of occurrences. Despite its negative physical and psychological effects on victims sexual harassment incidents are seldom reported by victims (Ladebo, 2003)

In a research conducted in south western part of Nigeria, of the eight rape victims who were interviewed in depth, only two had revealed the incident to anyone (Ajuwon 2005). Also, Ellsberg, Winkvist and Pena (2001) reported as further difficulty, that women are typically more reluctant to discuss sexual abuse by non-partners than by partners and therefore special methods are needed to encourage disclosure.

Bonnie (2009) stated some reasons why incident of sexual harassment sometimes go unreported by victims: Victims believe the harassment will stop if it is ignored, they are afraid no one will believe them, they feel intimidated, embarrassed, ashamed, or helpless, they are unfamiliar with college polices and complaint-resolution producers relating to sexual harassment(where it is in existence), they fear retaliation from the harasser, his or her colleagues, or the college, and they assume the harasser will not face any consequences, even if the allegations are proven to be true.

In the light of the above, what readily comes to mind is what coping strategies are employed to cope with the situations? According to Kelly and Parsons (2000), most victims of sexual harassment exhibit avoidance behaviour, for example, staying away from the aggressor or from the cases, victims blamed themselves for the situation, while others confide in friends or family members.

Religion, faith and spiritualism may be a source of comfort for some survivors as well. The victim could read journals or listen to music. In addition, activism, organizations, church or mosque, education and media campaigns could be employed. West (2000), The United State Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2002) suggested that it is helpful for the victim of sexual harassment to directly inform the harasser that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop. The victim should use any employer complaint mechanism or grievance system available. The body also suggested that prevention is the best tool to eliminate sexual harassment in the work place. Bonnie (2009) identified the role of college authorities in assisting students to avert incidence of sexual harassment when he reported about Ithaca College, USA.

1.2 Statement of problem

Although the subject of sexual harassment evokes spontaneous reaction from people whenever and wherever it is mentioned, there is no legislation in Nigeria that explicitly penalizes sexual harassment at work, including academic environments. Sexual harassment is yet to be officially recognized as the violation of the rights of an individual.

Organizations and Institutions often view it as two persons‘ personal problem (Kelly and Parsons 2000). Whereas, the problem of sexual harassment constitutes more health harzards to both victims and the entire community where it is being perpetrated than could be imagined as many emotional, physical, intrapersonal and societal challenging health issues are associated with the phenomenon.

In the last few years, the issue of gender violence has moved steadily up the world’s agenda. Sexual, physical and psychological violence causes as much of a burden of ill health and death among women aged 15 to 44 as cancer – and more than malaria and traffic accidents combined. But the fact that so many women are abused, mostly by men they know, is still something that most people don’t want to think about – and which legislation and policy are only slowly addressing (Mirsky, 2003). Sexual violence and harassment in schools, universities and higher education institutes, is even further from people’s minds. Educational institutions are supposed to be places of growth and learning for students. As such, they are regarded as “safe”. But this is not always the case. Recent research studies worldwide reveal that sexual violence in the education sector is an unaddressed problem. It ranges from groping female students in the cafeteria queue, to rape. Often it involves peers, but teachers and other staff are also perpetrators (Kelly and Parsons, 2000). Male and female students are both affected, but there is a significant gender gap, with girls and young women experiencing much higher levels of violence, reflecting broader gender inequalities in society.

Sexual violence and harassment violates women’s and girls’ human rights and damages their physical and psychological health. It undermines the pursuit of internationally agreed public health goals to enable adolescents to deal in a positive way with their sexuality, and to reduce unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections including HIV infection. For girls and young women, it severely limits their ability to achieve their educational potential. For society, therefore, it undercuts the transformatory power of education. Female education has been shown not only to contribute to improved family health but to be a major driver of social and economic development. Increasingly, universities and other colleges are making efforts to draw on the lessons of sexual violence research and activism and the experience of sexual harassment policies in the workplace, which is in itself a faulty procedure, to develop guidelines for students and staff. A wide range of strategies is required, from effective legislation and clear policy guidelines to age-appropriate educational initiatives incorporated in life skills, sexuality, HIV/AIDS education and the broader curricula. For younger students, issues need to be addressed in a way that is in keeping with their cognitive and emotional development. So, addressing and preventing sexual violence in the educational sectors is complex, due to the age range of students and the professional responsibilities – and power – held by teachers (Owoaje, and Olusola, 2009). Concepts such as equality and rights can be raised within the context of promoting respectful, loving relationships, or within conflict resolution and anti-bullying strategies (Mirsky, 2003).




1.3 Objective of the study

The general objective of this research work was to investigate the perspective of female students on sexual harassment in village hostel University of Jos. Specifically, the specific objectives of this study were to:

  1. Investigate the perception of student about sexual harassment
  2. Determine the prevalence of sexual harassment among female students at the village hotel
  3. Identify the types of sexual harassment commonly experienced among the students.
  4. Investigate the perceived predisposing factors to sexual harassment
  5. Examine the consequences of sexual harassment on the academic and social life of students.

1.4 Research questions

  1. What is the perception of female students of village hostel about sexual harassment?
  2. What is the prevalence of sexual harassment among the study population?
  3. What are the types of sexual harassment commonly experienced in the environment?
  4. What are the perceived predisposing factors to experience of sexual harassment?
  5. What are the consequences of sexual harassment on student‘s academic and social life?

1.5 Hypotheses

Two null hypotheses were formulated for this study

Ho1:     There is no significant association between perception of sexual harassment and prevalence of sexual harassment.

Ho2:     There is no significant association between attending social parties and incidence or experience of sexual harassment.



1.6 Significance Of The Study

In general, sexual harassment is considered as an individual and a small problem even though there are many women often experiencing the incidents in many places: school, universities, workplaces, and public areas. This incident upsets women’s lives and sometimes many of them get physical harm from the harassment, but the issue still is kept as a private problem. The sexual harassment behavior is transferred generation to generation without concerning the incident by involved institutions. This research tries to reveal the incidence and shows the significance of the problem to raise awareness of people on the sexual harassment with hope that the issue will be accepted as a public and national problem, which is the first step of law, regulation, and measure setting to protect women from the sexual harassment.

1.7 Scope/Limitation Of The Study

This study aims to survey the Incidence, consequences and solutions to sexual harassment of female students in village hostel of university of Jos. The principle of models of sexual harassment, and the patriarchy/ male dominant approach is used as a basis of this research design

1.8 Definition Of Terms

The definition of the terms of this study is as follows:

Sexual Harassment on Campus

Sexual harassment on campus is defined as unwanted sexual attention that (1) would be offensive to students, including being obstacles of students’ ability to learn or participate in school’s activities, and (2) that negatively affects the school environment (hostile environment or individual). Sexual harassment includes a wide range of behaviors: verbal behavior, non-verbal behavior, physical behavior, Quid Pro Quo Harassment, threat and sexual coercion (Judith, 1997).

Distinguishing between Sexual Harassment and Friendly Behavior

According to research of the Southern Illinois University, the distinction between sexual harassment and friendly behavior is as following: If the behavior is perceived as unwelcome it is no longer friendly behavior. Any behavior that makes another person feel uncomfortable or upset is most likely sexual harassment. The fact that the person had no intent is ordinarily irrelevant with harassment claims. In most cases, it is the effect and characteristics of the behavior that determine if it constitutes sexual harassment.

Quid Pro Quo Harassment

Quid Pro Quo harassment can be defined as sexual bribery which occurs when sexual favour or demands are made a condition of receiving benefits (e.g., a grade, promotion, job, recommendation or appointment) or of avoiding a penalty (e.g., being fired or receiving a negative evaluation).

1.9 Organization Of The Study

The study of prevalence of sexual harassment among undergraduate female students at university of Jos consists of five chapters:

Chapter One: Introduction to the study background, statement of problem, objectives of the study, variables and definitions, scope of the study, and significance of the study.

Chapter Two: Literature review explaining definitions of sexual harassment based on sexual harassment theory, types of sexual harassment, and relevant studies. Chapter Three: Subjects, materials, procedures of data collection and analysis.

Chapter Four: Findings report and data analysis.

Chapter Five: conclusions and recommendations.





Concept of Sexual Harassment

In every human society where there is interaction between opposite sex, some levels of sexual attraction is expected. When this occurs, mutual interest and reciprocal response defines a civilized and socially acceptable sexual behaviour. However, the increasing manifestation of social vices of sexual nature in societies continuously undermine the expected dignity and serenity of human existence, one of such is sexual harassment that has continued to attract the attention of researchers and the media as a common phenomenon in all domains of human community including higher education Institutions. This abnormal, antisocial behaviour has been accepted as a norm within the higher education institutions Nigeria and overseas.  The prevalence of sexual harassment in higher institutions in Nigeria can be attributed to the poor quality of graduates being produced. Previous studies on this subject have provided various definitions of sexual harassment.(Taiwo  et al  2014)


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