Sexual harassment: Women’s stories

image : “It started in high school…”

I am 21 year old woman, a third-year university student. For me, sexual harassment started in high school. Yes, I know boys will be boys and make stupid comments, and I could handle them, though I didn’t like them. But I didn’t know how to deal with the unwanted attention from one of the male teachers.

I mean what could I really do about it? Complain to the principal and then have to face the same teacher in class? His behaviour made me so edgy but I felt there wasn’t anything I could do so I learned to put up with it. I had to, if I wanted to finish school. I had a friend in another class who dropped out because of him and I didn’t want the same thing to happen to me.

Things haven’t improved much since I enrolled at university. I mean the course work is demanding enough without having to deal with dirty comments from male students. Their mothers and sisters would cringe if they could hear what these guys say to me and other girls. It’s like we’re not people, not even their intellectual equals. We get treated like sexual objects. And these boys show no remorse, like they’re not doing anything bad.

I’ve had trouble with one of my male lecturers too. And I’m not the only one. We’d been warned by a fourth year student to be careful of this lecturer. Someone complained last year but she was labelled a troublemaker. And the thing is, even though a number of girl students are dropping out of his class, which by the way is compulsory, the university is doing nothing. I mean, these lecturers act like they’re a law unto themselves and they get away with it.

I’ve had other issues with harassment on campus, too. The whole thing has actually been making me really depressed, and it’s had an impact on my grades. I’ve always been a high achiever but I didn’t do as well in the last exams and have been thinking of quitting university if this behaviour gets worse, which is the last thing I want. I have plans for my future, things I want to achieve, but it’s honestly too hard sometimes.

I want people everywhere to know that sexual harassment is no joke. Every day women and girls everywhere are having to put up with behaviour that many people think is normal or even acceptable. But it’s not. And it’s got to stop.