The Bill imposes stiff penalties on offenders in its overall objective of providing tighter statutory protection for students against sexual hostility and all forms of sexual harassment in tertiary institutions.
Members of the Nigerian Female Students Association reportedly stormed the National Assembly (Senate) Abuja, to show their unflinching support to the Bill for a law prescribing five-year jail term for lecturers sexually harassing female students.
Led by president of the association, Miss Idongesit Micah, the students expressed great delight that the Bill has passed through second reading in the floor of Senate.
Speaking with the sponsor of the Bill, Senator Ovie Omo Agege, Micah cited recent cases of Queens College, Yaba, Lagos, University of Calabar and so on, where female students were sexually assaulted.
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She added that a lot of female students have drop out of school, end up with low grades while some fail respective courses and don’t speak up for fear of stigmatization, backlash, character assassination, victimization, among others.
“Female students are afraid of being humiliated by lecturers or being stigmatized among students. And even when she speaks up to the school authorities, little or nothing is always done about it,’’ she said.
She added that the growing abuse of female students is orchestrated by lack of consistent and clear policy by school governing bodies and school authorities concerning sexual harassment hence her opinion that an independent and unbiased Committee be set up in tertiary institutions to look into cases of sexual harassment.
In his reaction, Senator Agege stated that institutions of higher learning across Nigeria must be sanitized to get rid of lecturers who see female students as “prize”.
According to him, the Bill imposes stiff penalties on offenders in its overall objective of providing tighter statutory protection for students against sexual hostility and all forms of sexual harassment in tertiary institutions.
He further said, when passed into law, Vice Chancellors, Rectors, Provosts and Chief Executive of institutions of higher learning will face a two year jail term if they fail to act within a week on complaints of sexual harassment made by female students.
In response, the Students’ Union Government President, University of Benin, Miss Lauretta Obakpolo, thanked the Distinguished Senator for taking up the plight of Nigerian Female Students and urged all and sundry to support the Bill.
Others who made remarks were Fatima Muhammad of University of Abuja, Omofon Mark, Vice President, Students’ Union Government, University of Uyo.
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