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Undergraduates appraise effectiveness of sexual harassment prohibition bill

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Following the BBC sex-for-grades documentary and its fad on social media, the National Assembly has revisited the sexual harassment prohibition bill which was first proposed under former Senate President, Bukola Saraki but did not gain popular support.

Although, the bill is in no regard a propitiation for students but a hedger against such unethical practices by educators, chiefly in higher institutions.
 
The bill states that any person who commits any of the offences or acts of demanding sex intimidating a student or inducing another person to commit any act of sexual harassment, is guilty of an offence of felony and shall, on conviction, be sentenced to an imprisonment term of up to 14 years but not less than five years, without an option of a fine. 

This, however, has brought about disparaging comments from some Nigerian university students, as they argued that it might be a charade, owing to the fact that the country has become infamous to lawlessness.

A sociological student at the University of Benin (UNIBEN), Kenechukwu Samuel, sees the impracticability of the bill. Her reasons being that the society has been inflicted with the hearsay syndrome and there are no ardent followers of the law. 

According to her, “I am speaking as a Nigerian and honestly, I think this just a facade. If the lecturer is influential, it is certain that he would get away with it.”

But Ndidi Glory, a student from Salem University, Lokoja, thinks differently. She told Campus Circuit that, “the bill is possible and workable, as long as it has been conceived and that the right measures would be followed.  It should be made effective as soon as possible.”

She suggested that aside from the committee to be set up by the school as stated in the bill, some lecturers should be made watchdogs to complement the effort of the committee.

Ogbuchukwu Chisom from the University of Ilorin is also hopeful that the bill will gain popular support and credence. She said, “it certainly will! As long as there are people who will stand for it. I strongly believe and I will lend my support, however it maybe.” 

For an alumnus of the National Open University, (NOUN), Obinna Victor, “I believe in the supremacy of the law. It should be passed to the law immediately so that it will take immediate effect.”
 
Surprisingly, some of the students found the penalty in the proposed bill as both ridiculous and inhumane. 
One of them is Aska Bulus, a student from Anchor University, Ayobo, Lagos, who condemned the 14-year jail term. 
She said, “I mean it is one thing to get exposed and be prosecuted for the act. But to be convicted for as long as 14 years is quite alarming.” 

To the satisfaction of some, the punishment is duly deserved as long as it aligns with the provisions of the law. It will also serve as a deterrent to others.

Oboh Osaze an alumnus of the University of Lagos, (UNILAG), expressed, “a lecturer jailed for 14 years is a good step in the right direction. A man who likes the opposite sex more than his job gets to a position in life where his job earns him self-respect and power over his subordinates and he finally seizes the opportunity to maximise his altered ego and desires (lustful) though, this punishment is not enough but it serves as a deterrent. The society at large needs to create a platform for people to air their views or abuse without being stigmatised.”

For Victor Nwene, a student of the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), “if the law says this punishment is right for him, then it is right. At least it will serve as a lesson to other lecturers. What the government needs to do is to put the bill into law so as to take effect immediately.”


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