ON Tuesday, the Senate proposed a 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.
The proposed bill titled: “A Bill for an Act to Prevent, Prohibit and Redress Sexual Harassment of Students in Tertiary Educational Institutions and for other matters connected therewith 2019”, was proposed by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege.
According to a statement signed by the Special Assistant (Press) to a President, Ezrel Tabiowo, the proposed legislation had scaled the second reading on the floor of the senate.
The 27-clause proposed bill defined sexual offences as including “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 for sex or making sexual advances”.
The bill also identified other forms of sexual harassment to include; “grabbing, hugging, kissing, rubbing, stroking, touching, pinching the breasts or hair or lips or hips or buttocks or any other sensual part of the body of a student;
“…or sent by hand or courier or electronic or any other means naked or sexually explicit pictures or videos or sex-related objects to a student, and whistling or winking at a student or screaming, exclaiming, joking or making sexually complimentary or uncomplimentary remarks about a student’s physique or stalking a student”.
He noted that the most effective way to deal with the offence of sexual harassment in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions is “to penalise the very impropriety of the act, with or without consent”.
Sexual harassment, according to him in tertiary institutions should be regarded as statutory rape with strict liability for offenders to be prosecuted easily.
Also, he said extending the bill to primary, secondary schools, worship centres and workplace, would not be necessary because of the Criminal and Penal codes adequately dealt with these categories with sufficient clarity.
However, the Deputy Senate President said the bill prescribes expulsion for students who falsely accuse educators of sexual harassment.
“An educator whose character is maligned is at liberty to sue for defamation under the law of defamation which is well-settled in our jurisprudence and needs no duplication in this bill,” he said.
Recalled, the BBC in a documentary, titled ‘Sex for grades’: Undercover in West African Universities unveiled the plights female, and students, in general, go through in a bid to secure a degree, showing UNILAG and the University of Ghana as examples.
Since the documentary, there have been reports of similar cases at the various tertiary institutions, which have left accused academics relieved of their duties.