Women in Liberian universities have frequently had to exchange sexual favors to professors for passing grades. Even if they report the man and he loses his job because of disciplinary action, he can usually find another teaching job elsewhere because no universal system for tracking such offenses exists.
Elizabeth Gbah, programme manager for women’s and girls’ rights at ActionAid Liberia, says transactional sex is so entrenched in university life that it’s a seemingly accepted practice. And tackling the problem is not helped by the fact that some women willingly choose to do it – knowing they are unlikely to pass their course if they don’t “pay” for grades – or believe that this is how women get on in life. Gbah says girls grow up thinking they are inferior to men, and often don’t feel able to articulate their concerns or fight back.
This is why there’s no such thing as benevolent patriarchy, or at least, not benign patriarchy.