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Stakeholders lament absence of sexual harassment policy in schools

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Stakeholders working on gender-related issues have lamented the absence of sexual harassment policy in Nigerian schools.

They made this submission in Abuja at a two-day workshop on gender reporting for media professionals organised by TechHer.

According to them perpetrators of sexual assault in Nigerian campuses are not been punished due to the absence of sexual harassment policies, lamenting that the Justice system in the country was too weak to protect victims of sexual assault.

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Secretary, Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Programme (ROLAC), Toyosi Giwa who decried the gap between the government and the people in terms of knowledge, disclosed that the body opened sexual assault referral centres in over 15 states in Nigeria because of the gap in the country’s justice system for rape victims.

According to Giwa, the introduction of the centre has improved access to justice for women, girls and persons with disabilities, insisting that more convictions will reduce the number of perpetrators.

The Secretary noted that the general justice system is underfunded and weak, explaining that most officials do not even know what is there in the justice system, adding: “Even those that know are not ready to do things differently because the system within which they operate is also a problem that hinders access to justice.

Project lead of TechHer, Kawthar Ahmed, identified the country’s culture as one of the biggest enablers of gender stereotyping that makes it a little difficult to make impactful change.

She stated, “There is a clear intersection between women’s empowerment and media development. The proliferation of media, the explosion of new technologies and the emergence of social media in many parts of the world have provided multiple sources for access to gender-related information and Knowledge.”

On her part, editorial manager for the digital division of The Guardian Newspaper, Lolade Nwanze who urged media practitioners to stop blaming rape victims when reporting rape incidences, insisted that blame must be centered on the perpetrators.

She added that if a report related to gender-based violence makes the victim feel bad, the author has not done a good job.

She stressed the need to involve women in newsroom management and decision making to address imbalances and pledged commitment towards improved and adequate reportage for the vulnerable in the society.

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