Graça Machel calls for “broad and profound” movement against sexual harassment in Mozambique

Mozambican activist Graça Machel called yesterday for a broad and profound movement in repudiation of sexual harassment, following the controversial case of instructors suspected of impregnating trainees at the Police Practical School.

“We need a broad and profound movement of intolerance and repudiation against sexual harassment,” Graça Machel said in an interview with the television channel STV.

The case was made public two weeks ago, when an order from the commander-general of the Police of the Republic of Mozambique (PRM), Bernardino Rafael, initiating disciplinary procedures against instructors at the Matalane Police School suspected of impregnating young women on the training course, circulated on social media.

In the document, Bernardino Rafael ordered the suspension of the instructors and the return of the young women to their homes, pending their return to training after birth.

For Graça Machel, the legislation must be enforced, in a process involving all segments of Mozambican society, and must leave no doubt that sexual harassment is a crime.

“It is necessary for people to get to the point of not even daring to try to harass someone because they will know that public opinion will fall upon them relentlessly. This environment must be created by civil society organisations, but also by state bodies,” she said.

“All sectors must create an environment of intolerance and inadmissibility, so that women are not used for petty purposes,” she declared.

The Mozambican president said yesterday that the government was investigating the case “in detail”, adding that state structures would not tolerate discipline violations.

“This case is serious and is being investigated in detail at ministerial level and by the general command of the Police of the Republic of Mozambique,” Filipe Nyusi said at the closing ceremony of the 40th Basic Police Course at the institution in question.

Preliminary investigations confirmed that 15 candidates on the course had positive pregnancy tests, President Nyusi revealed, but 10 became pregnant with partners outside the school, and one entered the training already pregnant, with only four becoming pregnant at the institution.

The case raised a chorus of outrage on social networks, with several Mozambican civil society organizations demanding the instructors who allegedly impregnated the young candidates be held accountable.

Speaking to Lusa on Monday, Mozambican ombudsman Isaque Chande said he regretted the events reported, also demanding that those at fault be held responsible.

“This is a major setback in the lives of these girls and of their families, who normally place hope in their children. I believe that many of them come from poor families. It is very unfortunate because, when this happens, it affects the girls’ future,” Chande said.

Source: Lusa

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