The BBC has justified the title of its latest investigative documentary, ‘Sex for Grades’, which exposed four professors of the University of Ghana and University of Lagos in Nigeria, sexually harassing their students.
“We stand by our journalism; we’ve done the research and we’re happy with what we’ve produced,” Mayeni Jones, Co-producer of the investigative film, told Alfred Ocansey on TV3 News360 Tuesday following criticisms of the title of the film.
According to her, a number of their investigations around the continent have almost always produced “strong reaction from the public”.
On the back of widespread allegations of lecturers in West African universities exchanging grades to female students for sexual favours the BBC Africa Eye team undertook a year-long investigation into the phenomenon to gather evidence for authorities to act.
The Sex for Grades documentary was released on October 7 in which two senior lecturers at the University of Ghana, Prof. Ransford Gyampo and Dr. Paul Kwame Butakor were captured making sexual advances at two female undercover agents who posed as students of the university.
Critics, including Prof Gyampo have since chastised the BBC for setting out to tarnish his reputation, as the documentary failed to find any evidence of sex for grades against him.
“Let me state however, that I have not involved myself in the BBC’s so-called sex for grades and will never do so. Their own video documentary evidence could not establish this,” Prof Gyampo said in his official statement aftermath the premiering of the film.
Chairperson of the University of Ghana Anti-sexual Harassment Committee, Dr. Margaret Amoakohene, also said the BBC failed to show evidence to back the sex for grades claims as suggested in the title of the film which has since caused the suspension of the two Ghanaian lecturers.
“Per the analysis on the video, there’s no direct correlation between lecturers’ conduct and the allegations made by the video. The evidence does not point to sex for grade. When we talk of sex for grade, we didn’t see much involvement of the lecturers of the University of Ghana,” she stated.
Others have suggested the title of the investigative film was misleading as it failed to capture the germane issues they sought out to establish in the two universities but the BB has rejected such criticism.
Co-producer of the investigative film, Mayeni Jones, has defended the sex for grades as title for the film because that is what has widely been used in West Africa to describe sexual harassment of students by university lecturers.
“We used the term ‘sex for grades’ because it is a term that is well known across West Africa when it comes to sexual harassment of students by university professors,” she told Alfred.
She explained further that “what we wanted to show was that university professors were using their position of power and influence to sexually harass students and the video evidence that we gathered and the script that we put forward for this documentary, does indeed prove this in our opinion”.
Mayeni, who’s also the BBC correspondent in Nigeria, said if one critically looks at the part of the film on University of Ghana, “it was very clear…that what we were trying to prove was that there was a problem of sexual harassment”.