Sexual Harassment Myths and Victims’ Blame Game among the Students of Institutions of Higher Learning

Implication to Gender-based sexual Violence and Community/Sustainable Development in Southeast Nigeria


  • Samuel Okafor University of Nigeria
  • Nwakaego Ekwealor University of Nigeria
  • Ogechi Nkemjika University of Nigeria
  • Ukamaka Anekeje University of Nigeria
  • Ikem Ogechi University of Nigeria
  • Adaobi Egbe University of Nigeria



Sexual harassment myths, Gender inequality, Gender-based sexual violence, Community development, Sustainable development


The study investigated the issue of sexual harassment myths among the students of higher institutions of learning in Southeast Nigeria region, focusing on the male and female undergraduates from these institutions as the study population. While the study was guided by Structuration Theory, survey design with questionnaire instrument was applied to manage the study and data collection procedure. Appropriate classification and statistics were applied to check the relationship of the substantive variables to the study. From the findings, there is a prevalence of acceptance of sexual harassment myths (72.3%/55.6%) among the students; gender explained 4.9%/10.4% variance of sexual harassment myths1&2, sexual harassment myths1&2 explained about 0.98%/0.22% variance of ability to report sexual harassment experience among the students. The study concludes that sexual harassment myths acceptance has been embedded in the consciousness of the youths through the overarching patriarchal structures in the system with gender-based violence and sustainable development implications.

Author Biographies

Samuel Okafor, University of Nigeria

Samuel Okafor [PhD in view] is in the Department of Sociology/Anthropology, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is a Scholar with multi methodological research skills in the areas of social sciences and humanities. His research interests span across Environmental Studies, Policy studies, Politics and development, Colonial and post-colonial studies, Indigenous people, Population studies, Public health and Gender Studies. Email:

Nwakaego Ekwealor, University of Nigeria

Nwakaego Ekwealor (PhD) [*Corresponding author] is in the Department of Adult Education & Extra-Mural Studies, University of Nigeria Nsukka. She is an Educationalist with specialization in Adult Education, Education and community development, Gender and community development, Technology and continuous education and Distance learning and continuous education. Email:

Ogechi Nkemjika, University of Nigeria

Ogechi Nkemjika is in the Department of Adult Education and Extra Mural Studies University of Nigeria Nsukka. She is Educationalist specializing in Adult education administration, Adult education and development, Gender and adult education and gender and continuous education and technology and distance education. Email:

Ukamaka Anekeje, University of Nigeria

Ukamaka Anekeje (Ph.D) is in the Institute of Development Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Her research interest includes Gender and Development, Policy and development, Public health and development as Environment and development. Email:

Ikem Ogechi, University of Nigeria

Ikem,Ogechi [PhD in view] is in the Department of History and International Studies at the University of Nigeria Nsukka. Her research interests include Socio-economic history with focus on women, Gender and History, as well as Society and gender equality. Email:

Adaobi Egbe, University of Nigeria

Adaobi Egbe [PhD in view] is in the Department of History and International Studies at the University of Nigeria Nsukka. Her research interests include socio-political history with focus on women. Email:


Acquadro-maran, D. & Varetto, A. (2021). Sexual harassment by clients experienced by male and female clerks in retail businesses: A qualitative explorative study in an Italian sample Journal of Health and Social Sciences 15, 2021 doi10.19204/2021/sxlh6

Ademiluka S. O. (2018). Patriarchy and Women Abuse: Perspectives from Ancient Israel and Africa. OTE, 31(2), 339-362. DOI: /2018/v31n2a5. DOI:

Ademiluka, S. O. (2022). Interpreting the David-Bathsheba narrative (2 Sm 11:2-4) as a response by the church in Nigeria to masculine abuse of power for sexual assault. Herv. Teol. Stud.77(4), 1-11.

Aina-Pelemo, A. D., Oke, O. A. & Alade, I. T. (2021). Quid pro quo sexual harassment: Comparative study of its occurrences in selected institutions in South-West, Nigeria. Current Research in Behavioral Sciences,2, DOI:

Ananya, C. (2020). Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Health Sector). Journal of Humanities and Social Science 25 (4), 28-31

Andrade, C. (2020). Sample size and its importance in research. Indian JPsychol Med 42:102 DOI:

Anierobi, E. I., Etodike, C. E., Nwogbo, V. N., Okeke, N. U.,& Nwikpo, M. N. (2021). Evaluating Sexual Harassment against Female Workers in Higher Institutions in Anambra State, Nigeria. International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, 11(2), 265–278. DOI:

Bello, P.O. (2020). Combating Sexual Harassment in Ivory Tower in Nigeria: Mixed feelings Bangladesh e-Journal of Sociology; 17(1), 173-189.

Bondestam, F. & Lundqvist, M. (2020). Sexual harassment in higher education – a systematic review. EuropeanJournalof Higher Education, 10(4), 397-419 DOI: 10.1080/21568235.2020.1729833

Bondestam, F. & Lundqvist, M. (2020). Sexual harassment in higher education – a systematic review, European Journal of Higher Education, 10(4), 397- 419, DOI: 10.1080/21568235.2020.1729833 DOI:

Børge S., Morten B. N., Ida, E. H. M., Knapstad, M., Lønning, K. J. & Hysing, M. (2019). Sexual harassment and assault among university students in Norway: a cross sectional prevalence study BMJ Open2019;9:e026993. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2018-026993 DOI:

Burn, S. M. (2019). The Psychology of Sexual Harassment. Teaching of Psychology, 46(1) 96-103 DOI:

Carla, H. & Adams, J. (2018). Spotlight on sexual violence and harassment in commercial agriculture: Lower and middle income countries. Research Department Working Paper

Chowdhury, R., Winder, B., Blagden, N. & Mulla, F. (2021). I thought in order to get to God I had to win their approval”: a qualitative analysis of the experiences of Muslim victims abused by religious authority figures. Journal of Sexual Aggression, DOI: 10.1080/13552600.2021.1943023 DOI:

David, N., Ezechi, O., Wapmuk, A., Gbajabiamila, T., Ohihoin, A., Herbertson, E., & Odeyemi, K. (2018). Child sexual abuse and disclosure in South Western Nigeria: a community based study. African health sciences, 18(2), 199–208. DOI:

Davis, J. M., Horrell, K. E., Anderson, T. L., & Lewis Hall, M. E. (2018). Religious and Role Contributions to the Marital Satisfaction of Evangelical Women. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 46(3), 184–198. DOI:

Dumisa, C. & Mabuza (2020). Effects of Sexual Harassment on Teachers By Students in High Schools in the Manzini Region. International Journal of Humanities, Art and Social Studies 5(1), 31-40.

Durana, A., Lenhart, A., Miller, R., Schulte, B. & Weingarten, E. (2018). Sexual Harassment: A Severe and Pervasive Problem What Drives This Unwanted, Costly, and Damaging Behavior Across Industry Sectors by Wage and Gender.

Emmanuel, O.O., Nwabiani, J., Ayomide, A.R., Sonny, A.N., Peter C, I., Gladys, O.U., Ifediora, U.L., Florence, C.C., Richard, I.U., Abubakar, K., & Confidence, O.E. (2020). Prevalence of Sexual Harassment in a Faith-Based Institution of Higher Learning in South-Western Nigeria. Global Journal of Health Science, 12(1).

Expósito, F., Herrera, A., Valor-Segura, I., Herrera, M., & Lozano, L. (2014). Spanish Adaptation of the Illinois Sexual Harassment Myth Acceptance. The Spanish Journal of Psychology, 17, E40. doi:10.1017/sjp.2014.42 DOI:

Gautam, U. & Bajpai, D. T. (2021). Knowledge, Attitude, and Practices (KAP) about Sexual Harassment at Workplace: A Roadmap for Sustainable Workplaces. European Journal of Sustainable Development 10(4), 72-84. Doi: 10.14207/ejsd.2021.v10n4p72 DOI:

Giddens, A. (1977). Studies in Social and Political Theory. London: Hutchinson.

Gumpili, S. P. & Das, A. V. (2022). Sample size and its evolution in research. IHOPE J Ophthalmol, 1: 9-13.

Haspels, N., Kasim, Z. M., Thomas, C. & McCann, D. (2001). Action against Sexual Harassment at Work in Asia and the Pacific. Bangkok: International Labour Office ILO Bangkok Area Office and East Asia Multidisciplinary Advisory Team.

Karami, A., Spinel, M.Y., White, C.N., Ford, K. & Swan, S. (2021). A Systematic Literature Review of Sexual Harassment Studies with Text Mining. Sustainability 2021, 13, 6589. DOI:

Ladebo, O. J. (2003). Sexual Harassment in Academia in Nigeria: How Real? African Sociological Review / Revue Africaine de Sociologie, 7(1), 117–130.

Landin, T. T., Melin, T., Kimaka, V. M., Hallberg, D., Kidayi, P., Machange, R., Mattsson, J. & Bjorling, G. (2020). Sexual Harassment in Clinical Practice—A Cross-Sectional Study Among Nurses and Nursing Students in Sub-Saharan Africa. SAGE Open Nursing 6: 1–11. DOI: 10.1177/2377960820963764 DOI:

Longpré, N., Moreton, R. E., Snow, E. J., Kiszel, F. & Fitzsimons, M. A. (2022). Dark Traits, Harassment and Rape Myths Acceptances Among University Students. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology 1–21 DOI:

Martínez-García, E., Montiel-Mesa, V., Esteban-Vilchez, B., Bracero-Alemany, B., Martín-Salvador, A., Gázquez-López, M., Pérez-Morente, M. Á. & Alvarez-Serrano, M. A. (2021). Sexist Myths Emergency Healthcare Professionals and Factors Associated with the Detection of Intimate Partner Violence in Women. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 23; 18(11), 5568. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18115568. DOI:

Merkin, R. S. (2012). Sexual Harassment Indicators: The Socio-Cultural and Cultural Impact of Marital Status, Age, Education, Race, and Sex in Latin America. Intercultural Communication Studies XXI: 1.

Mezie-Okoye, M. & Alamina, F.F. (2014). Sexual Violence among Female Undergraduates in a Tertiary Institution in Port Harcourt: Prevalence, Pattern, Determinants and Health Consequences. African Journal of Reproductive Health; 18(4),79-85

O’Connor, J. (2021). The Longitudinal Effects of Rape Myth Beliefs and Rape Proclivity Psychol Men Masc., 22(2): 321–330. doi:10.1037/men0000324. DOI:

O’Neil, R. (2021). Notes on not knowing: male ignorance after #MeToo. Feminist Theory 0(0) 1–22 DOI: 10.1177/1464700121101475

Obanor, N., Johnson, K. & Johnson, C. (2020). Perceptions and Experiences of Sexual HarassmentAmong Health Care Workers in a Nigerian Health Care Institution. SCIREA Journal of Health. 4(2), 16-29

Ogunfowokan, A. A., Olajubu, A. O., Oginni, M. O. & Gbenu, F. E. (2019). Rape Myth Acceptance among Nurses Undergoing Baccalaureate Nursing Degree Programme in a Nigerian University. International Journal of Caring Sciences 12(3),1857-1870.

Okafor, O. (2020), Patriarchy and Women Plight in Africa: The Consequences of Living in Passivity. Bangladesh e-Journal of Sociology, 17(2), 57- 74.

Okafor, S.O., Okoye, E.O., Onu J.C., Kekeocha-Christopher, I.C., Obiozor, E.E., Okechukwu, B.A., Ogbonna, A.N. (2022). Sex-For-Marks Scandals in South-East Nigeria Institutions of Higher Learning, Female Students Victim and the War against Sexual Harassment. Italian Sociological Review, 12(1), 87-118 DOI: 10.13136/isr.v12i1.520

Okondu, O. E., John, N., Afolabi, R. A., Atulomah, N. S., Ikonta, P. C., Okafor, U. G., Uchenna L. I., Chigeru C. F., Iloma U. R., Khadija A. & Okondu E. (2020). Prevalence of Sexual Harassment in a Faith-Based Institution of Higher Learning in South-Western Nigeria. Confidence. Global Journal of Health Science; 12(13), 1-8. DOI:

Palermo, T., Bleck, J. & Peterman, A. (2014). Tip of the Iceberg: Reporting and Gender-Based Violence in Developing Countries, American Journal of Epidemiology, 179(5), 602–612, DOI:

Ranganathan, M., Wamoyi, J., Pearson, I. & Stöckl, H. (2021). Measurement and prevalence of sexual harassment in lowand middle-income countries: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ Open 2021;11:e047473. doi:10.1136/ bmjopen-2020-047473

Razidur, R. & Nishat, J. (2015). Sexual Harassment in Workplace in South Asia: A Comparative Study on Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Srilanka. IOSR Journal of Business and Management,17(6), 49-57.

Recalde-Esnoz, I., Héctor, D. C. & Gemma, M. (2021). Sexual Assault Myths Acceptance in University Campus: Construction and Validation of a Scale. Social Sciences 10: 462. https:// DOI:

Reskin, B. & Padavic, C. (1994). Women and Men at work. Thousand OAKS. C.A. Pine forge press.

Sardinha, L., Maheu-Giroux, M., Stöckl, H., Meyer, S. R. & García-Moreno, C. (2022). Global, regional, and national prevalence estimates of physical or sexual, or both, intimate partner violence against women in 2018 Lancet, 399: 803–13 S0140-6736(21)02664-7

Swedish Research Council (2018). Sexual harassment in academia An international research review. Stockholm: Vetenskapsrådet.

Tenbrunsel, A. E., Rees, M. R. & Diekmann, K. A. (2019). Annual Review of Psychology Sexual Harassment in Academia: Ethical Climates and Bounded Ethicality. Annu. Rev. Psychol. 70:245–70

The Irish Presidency of the European Union, FGS Consulting & McGolgan, A. (2004). Report on Sexual Harassment in The Workplace in EU Member States. Ireland: Government of Ireland

Tinkler, J. E. & Zhao, J. (2020). The Sexual Harassment of Federal Employees: Gender, Leadership Status, and Organizational Tolerance for Abuses of Power. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 2020, 349–364 doi:10.1093/jopart/muz037 DOI:

U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (2008). Sexual Harassment: It is not academic. Washington, D. C: .S. Department of Education

United Nations Women (2020a). Bridging the Gap: Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment (SEAH). New York: United Nations Women Press.

United Nations Women (2020b). Sexual Harassment in the Informal Economy: Farm Workers and Domestic Workers. New York: United Nations Women Press.

Ushe, M. U. (2015). Religious Approaches to Preventing Gender Violence and Sexual Abuse in Nigeria. International Journal of Gender and Women’s Studies 3(1), 107-117 DOI:

Vanderwoerd, J. R. (2017). Sexual Violence on Religious Campuses. Canadian Journal of Higher Education Revue canadienne d’enseignement supérieur 47(2), 1 – 21 DOI:

Venema, R. M. (2016). Making judgments: how blame mediates the influence of rape myth acceptance in police response to sexual assault. J. Interpers. Violence 34: 2697–2722. doi: 10.1177/0886260516662437 DOI:

Vonderhaar, R. L., & Carmody, D. C. (2015). There are no “innocent victims”: the influence of just world beliefs and prior victimization on rape myth acceptance. J. Interpers. Violence 30:1615–1632.doi: 10.1177/0886260514549196 DOI:

Wallace, R. (1989). Feminism and sociological theory. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Weare, S. (2018). Oh you’re a guy, how could you be raped by a woman, that makes no sense: towards a case for legally recognising and labelling ‘forced-to-penetrate’cases as rape. Int. J. Law Context, 14: 110–131. doi: 10.1017/ S1744552317000179 DOI:

Weinberg, J. D. & Beth, N. L. (2017). What is Sexual Harassment? An Empirical Study of Perceptions of Ordinary People and Judges. Saint Louis University Public Law Review. 36 (1), Article 6. Available at:

WHO (2015) Sexual health, human rights and the law. Geneva: WHO press

Willmott, D., Boduszek, D., Debowska, A., & Woodfield, R. (2018). Introduction and validation of the juror decision scale (JDS): an empirical investigation of the story model. J. Crim. Just. 57: 26–34. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2018.03.004 DOI:

Wood, L., Hoefer, S., Kammer-Kerwick, M., Parra-Cardona, J. R. & Busch-Armendariz, N. (2018). Sexual Harassment at Institutions of Higher Education: Prevalence, Risk, and Extent. Journal of Interpersonal Violence 1–25.

Worke, M. D., Koricha, Z. B. & Debelew, G. T. (2021). Perception and experiences of sexual harassment among women working in hospitality workplaces of Bahir Dar city, Northwest Ethiopia: a qualitative study BMC Public Health (2021) 21:1119 DOI:




How to Cite

Okafor, S., Ekwealor, N., Nkemjika, O., Anekeje, U., Ogechi, I., & Egbe, A. (2023). Sexual Harassment Myths and Victims’ Blame Game among the Students of Institutions of Higher Learning: Implication to Gender-based sexual Violence and Community/Sustainable Development in Southeast Nigeria . Journal of International Students, 14(1), 189–209.



Research Articles (English)