Sexual harassment and experiences of female soldiers on the peace keeping operations: A case of Mushili and Kalewa Barracks, Zambia
Matakala, Mwitumwa John
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This study was aimed at exploring and understanding the lived experiences of female soldiers in relation to sexual harassment by male soldiers on the UN peace keeping operations, from Mushili and Kalewa Barracks. The motivation behind this study is that despite the measures put in place it was unclear why the phenomenon continued to exist. In order to understand the experiences, the study made use of a qualitative inquiry grounded in hermeneutic phenomenology. Purposive Sampling using Snow ball sampling was used to come up with the desired sample size of 50 and the resultant data that were collected. Data collection was achieved by use of in-depth face to face and focus group interviews. The data were analysed using content analysis in order to transcribe the bulk data into themes and sub themes. The findings were categorised in line with the objectives of the study which where nature of Sexual Harassment, Coping mechanisms in the face of Sexual Harassment and regulatory measurers put in place to curb Sexual Harassment. The findings of the study on the nature of sexual harassment using in depth interviews show that all the female soldiers understand what Sexual Harassment is. Furthermore the findings show that female soldiers of the junior ranks experience Sexual Harassment as opposed to the senior ones. The findings further show that the nature of Sexual Harassment experienced mostly is verbal Sexual Harassment which is dominant and manifesting itself in form of unwanted comments. The other two that are experienced are physical sexual harassment and nonverbal sexual harassment through unwanted actions. It was further found out that the junior female soldiers experienced these vices at platoon level from corporals and sergeants. The findings of the study on coping of female soldiers in the face of sexual harassment reveled that sexual harassment was common. Furthermore, although there was only one standard way of reporting problems to relevant authorities, the issue of sexual harassment was not taken seriously. Further findings, indicate that the junior soldiers practiced coping mechanisms which are problem fixing, where they befriend a senior officer for protection and problem sharing were they shared with a friend to lighten the stress. The findings on regulatory measures put in place to curb sexual harassment show that there is no written instruction put in place by the Army and indeed the United Nations hence making it difficult for female soldiers to be protected. The findings further revealed the sexual harassment experiences of female soldiers on the UN peace keeping operations. These are likely to affect the 50–50 participation both locally and on the UN peace keeping operation of female soldiers if not addressed. It is against this background that in order to improve the situation a number of recommendations have been put forward for consideration by the Army and the United Nations.