The CEO of Africa Integras, Ms Andrea Pizziconi has said she never used the word “sexual harassment” to describe her encounter with the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu but stand by her words that the V-C made sexist and derogatory remark to her and about her.
In a social media post, Ms Pizziconi alleged that in all her dealings with the University of Ghana, it was Prof Oduro Owusu who made her most uncomfortable.
She claimed that Prof Oduro Owusu declined to work with her to save the Africa Integras project on the basis that she was “far too pretty to worry my little head about the project”.
She alleged that on one occasion when they met, the V-C ordered: “Turn around, everyone, I want to give her a proper hug.”
Some media headlines reported that Ms Pizziconi had alleged that she was sexually harassed by Prof Oduro Owusu, an allegation the V-C has denied.
In a series of tweets, Ms Pizziconi said the term “sexual harassment” was used by the media and not her.
“Surprised to see some media houses claiming I backtracked. Not so. I never used the word sexual harassment. They did. & I stand behind every sexist & derogatory remark he made to me & about me. #sexforgrades is rooted in the belief that women must sleep with someone to advance,” her tweet read.
She explained further in another tweet that: “In my case, because I achieved something pioneering by closing the project, he assumed I must have slept with his predecessor to do it. & he confidently spread that belief in public statements regardless of the stakes for UG. This is a very dangerous mindset for men to hold.”
Ms Pizziconi continued: “Most women have faced one or the other side of this misogynist coin. One day you face pressure to sleep with someone. Another, you get defamatory & sexist allegations that you did anyway even if not true. I've faced both. Stem from the same limited mindset we must address.”
She advised: “To men commenting: try humbly asking women around you for their views. You will be very surprised when you stop to listen to their stories or exploitation. Every woman has a story. Before judging, just listen. Mind-blowing what women face professionally & at school.”
Prof Oduro Owusu, however, told Kwabena Prah Jnr (The Don) on the Ghana Yensom show on Accra100.5FM on Thursday, 10 October 2019 that Ms Pizziconi is “desperate” and “bitter” because he renegotiated her company’s contract with the University of Ghana.
“We have never sat anywhere one-on-one because my policy is that we work as a team and, so, I don’t sit one-on-one with people and that is what she didn’t like.
“The last time she said she wanted to meet me one-on-one, I called the Registrar to join the meeting but when she realised that I was coming with others, she didn’t like that idea. I have never been in a secluded area with her – either in my house, office or hotel; never.”
“The simple thing I will say is that her accusations against me are untrue.”
Prof Oduro Owusu, however, said if the University’s Council decides to investigate Ms Pizziconi’s allegations against him, he is ready and willing to submit himself to that probe.
Ms Pizziconi came out following a BBC documentary titled ‘Sex for Grades’ which involved two University of Ghana lecturers and two University of Lagos lecturers.
Professor Ransford Gyampo and Dr Paul Kwame Butakor were caught on tape allegedly involving themselves in “inappropriate” conduct with the female journalists who posed as students of the university.
Management of the University of Ghana has interdicted the two lecturers while it probes the allegations.