CSO demands assent to Tertiary Institutions Sexual Harassment bill


Gender Mobile Initiative, a civil society organisation, has demanded express and urgent assent to the Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Educational Institutions Bill by President Bola Tinubu.

At a press conference in Abuja, the group described the menace of sexual harassment in Tertiary Institutions and higher education campuses as a national concern that demands immediate action.

Describing Nigerian tertiary institutions as hotspots for power-driven sexual crimes, the lead Director of the CSO, Omowumi Ogunrotimi said the bill if assented to, will prevent, prohibit and create opportunities for victims to seek redress in competent courts of law to bring perpetrators to justice.

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She noted that 70% of female graduates from Nigerian tertiary institutions, as reported by a World Bank survey, had gone through sexual harassment, statistics indicative of systemic and structural deficits.

In her words, ”The gravity of power-driven sexual harassment remains inadequately addressed, overshadowed by the stark reality highlighted in a 2018 survey by the World Bank Group’s Women, Business, and Law.

”These distressing figures are not merely statistics, they represent the lived experiences of countless young women whose educational journey has been marred by the insidious spectre of harassment.

”It is not an isolated problem but rather an epidemic that jeopardizes the integrity of the education system and the well-being of students, especially female students. We must address the root causes and implement robust measures to dismantle the culture of sexual harassment in higher institutions of learning.

”Various initiatives have been set in motion by diverse actors to combat this scourge of sexual harassment. Notably, the Federal Ministry of Education’s endorsement of a model sexual harassment prohibition policy co-designed and validated by the Independent Corrupt Practices, Gender Mobile Initiative, and higher education institutions,” she said.

Ogunrotimi lamented that despite efforts by stakeholders to curb the menace, a critical void persists, leaving an urgent need for a legal framework to criminalize sexual harassment in higher education institutions.

”The Sexual Harassment Prohibition in Tertiary Education Institutions Bill presents a promising solution. This comprehensive legislation is crafted to address the nuances of sexual harassment, providing a clear definition of offences, establishing stringent penalties for perpetrators, and outlining mechanisms for the prevention and redress of sexual harassment.

”Regrettably, despite the urgency of the matter, the Bill has lingered on the desk of the Nigerian President awaiting the seal of approval. This delay is disheartening and raises concerns about the commitment to eradicating sexual harassment within our educational institutions.

”The President recently signed into law the Student Loan Bill, a commendable initiative aimed at facilitating students’ access to interest-free loans for education, however, the impact of this empowerment is diminished if the educational journey is marred by the trauma of sexual harassment.

”Addressing sexual harassment in tertiary institutions is not just a moral imperative but a national emergency that demands swift and decisive action.

“The President’s action, or lack thereof, will send a powerful message about the nation’s values and its dedication to fostering an environment where every student, particularly female students can thrive,” she added.


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