n South African Journal of Higher Education - Dealing with sexual harassment at institutions of higher learning : policy implementation at a South African university




In the past two decades universities in South Africa have started to develop and implement sexual harassment policies to protect their staff and students against this type of harassment. The article first looks at the negative impact of sexual harassment on students from a health, psychological and academic perspective.The focus then shifts to policy implementation. While policy development has been relatively successful it is unclear if the implementation of sexual harassment policies is succeeding. It is also unclear what successful policy implementation around sexual harassment looks like. A gap often exists between policy-making and policy implementation. This is a multi-dimensional problem varying from the way the policy was formulated to issues of perceptions of the policy and a lack of institutional support.

The article explores notions of what policy impact may mean and then report on the findings of a case study of policy implementation at a tertiary institution in South Africa, as one of three case studies done on the implementation of sexual harassment in tertiary education institutions. The study uses quantitative and qualitative methodology such as a small survey as well as focus groups. The findings show that policy implementation is problematic with the biggest problem being a lack of co-ordination between the major stakeholders where cases can be reported. One of the consequences of this lack of co-ordination is that the university's management has no clear understanding of the nature and extent of sexual harassment on the campus, leading them to think that sexual harassment does not occur, while those whom the policy is supposed to protect lose faith in the policy and grievance procedure. To conclude recommendations are made to deal with some of the existing problems.


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