Experiences of sexual assault among fresh undergraduate students at Makerere University.
AYAMBA MUUSIKA, MARK
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There are increasing reports of sexual assault among students at Makerere University. Most of these cases reported are amongst continuing students. Fresh female undergraduates are more than three times at risk of being sexually violated than others. The study therefore sought to explore the experiences of sexual assault among freshmen at Makerere University. The study was an exploratory and participatory one using a qualitative study design to explore the experiences of sexual assault among fresh students. It targeted only first year students who enrolled in 2019.It also involved interviewing respondents using open-ended questions, writing down their answers and audio-recording the responses. Thematic coding was used for themes that came up in the study. A variety of forms of sexual assault were reported from respondents ranging from coercion, unwanted sexual comments and rape including; incapacitation, attempted rape, completed rape, and unwanted sexual coercion. Public gatherings and the perpetrator’s residence were also found to be locations where serious assaults happened. Students reported employing coping patterns like; reporting, talking to a friend, ignoring the behavior, seeking social support and counseling among others. Based on research findings, the study draws the following recommendations; This study points to the need to increase sensitization and awareness of sexual harassment among students at Makerere University, the university administration should ensure to put up measures that enable victims to report victimization, more programs in form of support groups are needed to help victims seek refuge and comfort when they are traumatized by the events.