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Senate passes bill against sexual harassment in educational institutions

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The Nigerian Senate on Tuesday has passed a bill against sexual harassment in educational institutions after it scaled the third reading.

The bill defines sexual offences as “sexual intercourse with a student or demands for sex from a student or a prospective student or intimidating or creating a hostile or offensive environment for the student by soliciting sex or making sexual advances.

The bill titled: ‘A Bill for an Act to prevent, prohibit and redress sexual harassment of students in tertiary educational institutions and for matters concerned therewith, 2019’, was reintroduced in the Senate on October 9 and scaled second reading on November 6, 2019.

Following a BBC investigation that uncovered alleged sexual misconduct by lecturers in Nigeria and Ghana, the sexual harassment bill sponsored by Ovie Omo-Agege, the Deputy Senate President and 106 others has 27 clauses.

It proposes 14-year jail term, with a minimum of five years, without an option of fine for any educator who commits sexual offences in tertiary institutions.

However, Biodun Ogunyemi, President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU),  during the public hearing of the bill in Abuja described it as biased. He said the bill will stigmatise lecturers in universities.

The anti-sexual harassment bill was originally introduced in 2016 but didn’t pass both houses of parliament.

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Critics rejected the bill because it did not cover sexual harassment in the workplace and included a defence for consent. The defence for consent has been removed from the latest bill.

 

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