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Gender Mobile Initiative to create mobile app for sexual harassment complaints

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A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Gender Mobile Initiative (GMI), says it is set to create a mobile application where students facing sexual harassment in the various tertiary institutions across Nigeria can anonymously report perpetrators of the act.

Omowumi Ogunrotimi, Executive Director, GMI disclosed this during a national dialogue on sexual harassment in Nigeria tertiary institutions in Abuja.

According to a Daily Trust report, the event was organised by GMI in collaboration with Ford Foundation.

Ogunrotimi noted that the GMI has gone into partnership with over 100 tertiary institutions to help students store up evidence and report cases anonymously via the App.

The App which according to her, will be launched in February 2020 has undergone all necessary survey required to accommodate seamless entries of facts from students across universities.

“For students who don’t report cases because they don’t feel safe entering a facility to see a lecturer or to see a member of a committee that might not believe her or him, there is still space on the platform where you will report this cases and store up evidence,” Ogunrotimi said.

“Even if it happened today and you are not comfortable about speaking about it yet, you can still store up documentary evidence until when you are comfortable to speak about it.

“So, this mobile app is a pragmatic approach on our part and we understand that technology has really gone a long way in making life easier,” she added.

Ogunrotimi stressed the need for the National Assembly to pass the Sexual Harassment Prohibition Bill so as to address sexual abuse cases wreaking havoc in the country’s institutions of learning.

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She pleaded that the bill is revisited, citing the “BBC African Eye report,” noting that sexual harassment has become a pandemic that shouldn’t be addressed on the margin but that must be addressed holistically.

“Sometime ago when it was introduced, it was met with stiff resistance because it had some existing gaps in terms of scope, and recently on the sideline of sex for grade video done by BBC, we have the NASS revisit this.

“This piece of legislation will address issues bothering on sexual harassment. However, our policy will do more around implementation; we treat this issue regardless of sex and gender.

“We visited the office of the Deputy Senate President and we are working together to ensure the bill revisited is more robust and more encompassing.

“But at our own level, you will see that this dialogue has brought together stakeholders from ICPC because of the dimension of abuse of power and Human Rights Commission since issue of sexual harassment is a human right issue,” Ogunrotimi said.

Also speaking,  Bernard Jemilohun, Dean, Faculty of Law, Elizade University, Ondo State said there was a need for the National Universities Commission (NUC) as a national regulatory body of Nigerian universities to mandate universities to have policies against this menace.

“We have run a system for so long where all that is required before an academic is employed is his mental prowess, we did not look at moral capabilities; we don’t do background check.

“What brought NUC dimension is the fact that I feel the commission should compel universities to have definite policies against sexual harassment.

“The policy should hold everybody accountable and should not victimize the victims again for reporting. “Apart from the fact that over the years, this matter has been side-stepped, it does appear there is a conspiracy of men against women in this matter.

“We must have a shift of mindset and begin to see the dangers and damaging consequences of sexual harassment and devise a means and a way forward from this situation,” Jemilohun said.

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