Sexual harassment: Stakeholders urge institutions to make confirmed cases public

STAKEHOLDERS in Nigeria’s educational sector have urged tertiary institutions to publicise confirmed cases of sexual harassment in schools to encourage students further to report such incidents.

This appeal was made during a progress review meeting of Independent Sexual Harassment Prohibition Committees (ISHPCs) in various tertiary institutions held in Abuja on Monday, April 29.

The meeting was organised by the Anti-Sexual Harassment Advocacy (ASHA) Cluster, an initiative funded by Palladium.

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Executive Director of Gender Mobile Initiative, Omowunmi Ogunrotimi, who spoke at the event, stated that making reports of sexual harassment cases handled by the committee regularly available to the school authorities and students would help victims know that their situations could be fairly treated if reported.

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She also urged institutions not to mete out punishments that might be inadequate and, therefore, encourage perpetrators.

“When you say that you reduce the classes that lecturer is taking from ten to five because he committed an act of sexual harassment and you are still paying the person’s salary, you’ve reduced the person’s burden. That is an incentive,” she said.

Ubong Ekpe, who moderated the plenary session, also noted that resolving cases was a significant step in encouraging students to speak up, as unresolved cases give students no reason to come forward when abused.

“When there is closure to cases, it will bolster the confidence of students. If we have cases and someone is being reprimanded, someone is being punished, I think it will build confidence,” he said.

Others also agreed that the reluctance of students to report sexual harassment could only be changed over time through persistent sensitisation.

The Independent Sexual Harassment Prohibition Committee is part of the provisions of a bill for an Act to Prevent, Prohibit, and Redress Sexual Harassment of Students in Tertiary Educational Institutions and for Matters Connected Therewith.

Although the bill has yet to be passed into law, various institutions have proceeded to institute the committee as part of measures to curb sexual violence in schools.




     

     

    Sexual harassment has remained a matter of urgent concern for Nigerians, especially parents and students of higher institutions.

    About a week ago, a professor at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) in Enugu State, was caught on camera trying to sexually abuse his student within the school premises.

    Oga Lecturer also reported that at least 43 lecturers were indicted for sexual harassment between 2018 and 2023.

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    This report is republished from Oga Lecturer. Read the original report here.

    Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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