SEXUAL HARASSMENT: EXPERIENCES, PREVALENCE AND PSYCHOPATHOLOGY IN SOME SELECTED HIGHER INSTITUTIONS IN LAGOS, SOUTH-WEST NIGERIA:

Gabriel A. AKINBODE, Folusho AYODEJI

Abstract


The renewed attention that sexual harassment, in all its forms, has received in recent past and continues to receive may not be unconnected to the observed rise in reported and unreported incidents, and the psycho-physiological distress experienced by the victims of this social malaise in Nigeria society, most particularly in the higher institutions of learning. This paper therefore empirically examined the incidents, prevalence and psycho-physiological implications of sexual harassment in some selected Nigerian tertiary institutions in Lagos metropolis. The study was a survey, which employed ex-post-facto research design. It draws from feminist and patriarchal theory of sexual harassment. A total of 328 students’ from twelve departments of the six major faculties of the sampled institutions, which comprises of 124 males and 204 females, participated in the study. It was hypothesized that female participants will report more of public/street sexual harassments compared to their male counterpart who will report more of private, territorial sexual harassment.  Female victims of predatory, dominance and territorial harassers will report significant negative psycho-physiological disorders compared to their male counterparts. The study revealed that there were significant gender differences in the pattern of sexual harassment reported by the participants. Female young adults reported that their male sexual harassers are more of predatory and territorial harassers when social contact is public, while their male counterparts reported that female engaged more often in territorial and street sexual harassment in public than males. Further analysis showed that male young adults reported that their female counterparts are territorial and street harassers in private, while the female counterparts reported the male are voraciously predatory harassers if the contact environment is private. The associated Chi-square value and Contingency correlation obtained provided support for this pattern and trend of sexual harassment among young adults when social contact is either public or private. This study also revealed significant gender difference in observed variance in the health symptoms, psychological distress symptoms and depressive symptoms of the victims of sexual harassment. It explained about 9%, 14% and 50.1% of the observed variance in victim’s health, psychological distress and depressive symptoms respectively. Type of sexual harassment was significant for psychological stress and depressive symptoms. Expectedly, depressive symptoms were higher among females who were sexually harassed in public as compared to their counterparts that were sexually harassed in private. However, psychological distress was high among both male and female sexually harassed victims who reported predatory, dominance, territorial and street harassment in the public compared to their counterparts that experienced sexual harassment in the private. The pattern and emerging trend of the experience, prevalence and psychopathology of sexual harassment found in this study are novel and very instructive especially against the backdrop of the widely held belief that males are the main sexual harassers and that the females as the sole victims of sexual harassment. The results were discussed in the light of extant theories and literatures of human sexual orientations.

                                                                                                       


Keywords


Sexual harassment,health symptoms, psychological distress, depressive symptoms, Affectivity

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