Sexual harassment on campuses may attract five-year jail term
Heads of institutions to be liable too
As part of measures to prohibit sexual harassment of students in institutions of higher learning, and bring to an end, a major distraction to academic pursuit on campuses, a bill has been formulated and presented before the Senate.
The bill proposes a compulsory five-year jail term for any lecturer who sexually harasses a student, while heads of institutions of learning, where such activities take place would be held liable too.
By the proposed law, vice chancellors of universities, rectors of polytechnics and chief executives of sundry institutions would go to jail for two years for failing to act within a week of complaints of sexual harassments.
The bill introduced by the senator representing Delta Central Ovie Omo-Agege, has received support of many senators, who have also confirmed their co-sponsorship of the bill.
They include senators Ben Murray-Bruce (Bayelsa East), Princess Stella Odua/ Anambra North; Rose Oko, Cross River North, and Fatima Raji Rasaki, Ekiti Central.
Also co-sponsoring the bill are Senators Oluremi Tinubu, Lagos Central; Ibrahim Gobir, Sokoto East; Bunmi Olujimi, Ekiti South; Munsorat Sunmonu, Oyo Central; Ahmed Ogembe, Kogi Central and Binta Masi Garba, Adamawa North.
Omo-Agege, the only senator elected on the platform of Labour Party, explained that involving his colleagues as co-sponsors underscores the gravity of the problem and the urgent attention needed to tackle it.
“We need to protect our students, particularly our daughters, from sexual perverts who use unethical and coercive means to instill fear in them and compel acquiescence sexual liaisons,” he stated.
The senator disclosed that the bill was a product of research commissioned on the issue, stressing that it has become imperative to restore faith and decency to the country’s learning environment.
His words: “No parent wants his or her child to learn under the trauma of sexual harassment. Unless you are married to a student, stay away from our students. If not, be ready for jail if your intentions are sexually perverse.”
The bill allows sexually harassed students, their parents, and guardians to seek civil remedies in damages against the sexual predator/lecturers before or after their successful criminal prosecution by the state.
Besides, the bill seeks protection from sexual harassment for prospective students seeking admissions into higher educational institutions.
The bill, which is generating interests in the academic communities, and among non-governmental organisations (NGOs), is said to have also caught the attention of the Office of the First Lady, and the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, have indicated interest and believed to be exploring how best to support the bill.