So a few weeks ago we planned a debate event for the students of our school to attend on a Wednesday afternoon. The school's head of English teacher provided us with two teams, opposing and supporting, who he thought were the most confident with their English speaking, and so thought it best that they were the ones to participate in the discussion. We also had a chairperson, secretary for each team and a time keeper - and of course myself and Mariam were elected as judges.

The question we set was;

"Does sexual harassment affect boys as well as girls?"

The whole debate was spoken in English which was really encouraging as we could really understand them and get involved – as well as great English speaking practise for them.
There was 2 students that stole the show and were very confident in their speaking and with their arguments, both questioning the other (obviously a good thing in a debate) and backing up their points with examples that they had previously researched.

Frustratingly, the opposing team who were arguing that the above statement was untrue, gave typical sexist and unequal gender arguments – even more interestingly being argued by a girl! Their strongest and most repeated point was…

“Boys are always stronger than girls – there is no way boys can be harassed because the boys are the ones doing the harassing”.

AGHHH, as judge I was not allowed to interrupt to disagree but it was awful to hear this point being made time and time again. Another quote I distinctly remember is “boys have bigger brains than girls” uh what? Sorry I don’t think he was paying attention in his biology classes because thats absolutely not the case.
Once the debate was over, the judges (us) could then stand up and ask any questions to both teams, and of course my first question was “why does it matter that a boy is stronger than a girl – you don’t have to be physically strong to verbally harass or abuse somebody?” which the team did not seem to understand or have an answer for (but I just had to say it).

The supporting team did a really good job, especially one boy who argued against almost every single point the opposition made and said the same things as I was thinking – he had seen himself, along with other students who agreed, boys getting harassed by a woman. This is something that happens a lot in Tanzania, but because there is so much attention around girls being victim to sexual harassment, people seem to forget that it happens the other way around too – both are equally as important as the other.

Hannah x

Published by Hannah Boulton