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Sexual Harassment in School: Descriptions, Explanations and Solutions among Participants
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Studies.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Sexual harassments in schools have been identified as one of the factors preventing girls from attending education. Moreover, both female and male students who attend education and witness male teachers harassing female students may perpetuate this behaviour. In Mozambique, research addressing sexual abuse and harassments in school focus on the fact that decrees and policies on zero-tolerance against sexual abuse are not followed up properly. There is little research addressing how students perceive the issue, and even less on male students’ understanding of the phenomenon in relations to female students’ understanding.

This study took place at two schools in Maputo, Mozambique, and examines what approach students in secondary school and university, as well as adults working around these students have upon sexual harassments and abuse in school. Furthermore, officials and informants at NGOs addressing gender issues and sexual harassments in schools were interviewed. The purpose was to find out how the informants described the phenomenon, what they believed were the reasons behind it and how they thought it could be prevented.

The result has been analysed through a gender and power analysis. The study uses the social constructionist theory of gender, recognising that gender is constructed through interaction and expectations of people (Francis & Skelton 2005:28), and Collen’s (1996) theory of hegemonic masculinity, which explains how the patriarchy is legitimised. Further, in order to analyse the result, Allen’s (1998) theories of power-over, power-to and power-with as well as Lukes’ (2005) theories of different dimensions of power have been used.

The informants described sexual harassments as occurring between male teachers and female students at the schools. However, there was a discrepancy between the male and the female students’ perception of whether it is the male teacher or the female student who is the harasser. Despite this, the informants agreed on sexual harassments occurring between female teachers and male students being rare.

The explanations to why it occurs range from the patriarchal structures, myths claiming that an older man is given good luck if having sex with a virgin, the female students’ fear of failing in school if not saying yes to the teacher, her interest in getting material benefits and her lack of interest in studying, to the male teacher’s lack of ability to control himself sexually. The different explanations were given depending on how the informant described the phenomenon. This also led to different conclusions to what should be done to come to an end to sexual harassments. An issue brought up was the difficulties to report harassments and the lack of punishment towards the teachers. Further, some believed that the female students should be subjected to awareness raising in order to dress properly and focus on the studies.

While the risk of the male students perpetuating the behaviour of male teachers harassing female students is prevalent, the female students interviewed have the power to say no to the teachers, but not the power-to report. There are a number of organisations addressing the issue in different ways and there are regulations on how to report. However, in order to work holistically with the issue, the male students have to be included in the work and the organisations have to co-ordinate their measures in order to find a solution to the problem. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 56 p.
Keyword [en]
sexual harassment, gender, power, education, Mozambique
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-30753OAI: diva2:667548
Educational program
Peace and Development Work, Master Programme, 60 credits
Available from: 2013-12-03 Created: 2013-11-26 Last updated: 2013-12-03Bibliographically approved

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Kalmelid, Nesim
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