Public Defender Finds Sexual Harassment of Student by Lecturer

The Public Defender positively evaluates the termination of a contract with a harasser by the Agrarian University of Georgia and notes that it is important for the higher education institution to continue to respond quickly and effectively to the cases of sexual harassment in the future.

On February 26, 2024, the Public Defender identified verbal sexual harassment in the academic relationship and addressed the harasser and the rector of the Georgian Agrarian University with a recommendation.

The reason for issuing the Public Defender's recommendation was the lecturer's interest in the details of the student's personal life, inviting her for a drink, offering to meet in a closed apartment, and addressing her with familiar terms, which created a degrading environment for the applicant.

The case materials rightly gave rise to the presumption of sexual harassment, while the arguments and evidence presented by the respondent were not sufficient to disprove the presumption.

According to the Public Defender's assessment, the respondent’s actions exceeded the standards of academic behavior and the scope of the allowed relationship between the student and the lecturer. The existence of cases of sexual harassment in educational spaces, considering the subordinate relationship and power imbalance, is particularly alarming and may have a negative impact on receiving quality education and developing professional skills.

The Public Defender urges the former lecturer of the university not to engage in sexual harassment in the future and not to create an environment that is insulting, humiliating or inappropriate for students or other persons.

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