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Multifaceted forms of corruption affecting young women

Written by Pamela Ngulu

A teenage girl at a refugee camp applies to the camp administrator for food, soap, and medicine she’s entitled to and needs to survive. He falsely tells her that  her name is not on the list. But, instead of demanding money – the classic corruption scenario — he demands sex and she has no choice but to comply.

Corrupt sexual extortion – sextortion is not hypothetical and it isn’t rare. It happens right in our midst.

The awkward stares at a job interview. The way one is automatically cast out for being married or in a relationship  while looking for a job  (she has nothing to “offer”)

In Swahili we call it a “nipe nikupe” society; Give me, I give you, let me take this and I won’t make trouble for you.

When people wake up with no hope for tomorrow, no assurance for today and frustrated thoughts of yesterday one can say that person lives in a society where corruption is rampant.

Corruption has and will always be a challenge to governments the world over. It is because of corruption, creative, talented young women are disillusioned because they hardly ever realize their dreams.

It is because of corruption that access to health care has become a privilege rather than a right because of this young women die of curable diseases. It is because of corruption girls live in an insecure environment never wishing that tomorrow will come. Its because of corruption of the mind that young women some as young as 6 years old are raped everyday and its because of corruption they don’t get justice and are left to live with the trauma their whole life. Corruption will continue to eat up our continent and affect our young women if our public officials are not held accountable for what they do, if honesty and transparency is not taught in our schools and if our government creates employment opportunities for our young women.

Transparency International did a finding that reported “good grades are offered by teachers in return for sexual favours.” It explains further that education can be bought. TI agrees that sexual extortion exists. Though why am I squirming in my seat? When we say teachers ‘offer’ grades makes it sound like we are given presents or that we women are voluntarily prostituting ourselves.

A more accurate phrase would be Teachers DEMAND  sex from students in exchange for grades. Call it how you want to, that’s sexual abuse.

In the end, regardless of the spheres in which corruption occurs, in order for women, other marginalized groups and ordinary citizens to not be multiply disadvantaged, nepotism, bribery, the undue influence of special interests and illegal, unethical dealings must be uprooted. Simultaneously, women and all other groups need more access to information. In many cases, women do have rights but are not aware of them or how to exercise them.

The failure of the anticorruption community to recognize and prioritize many of the ways in which women experience corruption is preventing us from fighting sextortion, rape, and sexual violence effectively

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