03 August 2020 by Mwuese Adem
The Sexual Harassment Bill SHB should go beyond higher institutions of learning to curb sexual offences in the society.
Chairperson of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Abuja Branch, HAUWA SHEKARAU made this known during a virtual meeting organised by the Network of Reproductive Health Journalists Nigeria.
SHEKARAU explained that expansion of the bill would help criminalise sex offenders in every segment of the society including work places.
While highlighting some of the objectives of the Sexual Harasment Bill, SHEKARAU said mutual consent was not an excuse as the only defence is on the grounds of marriage between the educator and student in higher institutions .
The NBA chairman who noted that the country’s educational standard was being compromised as a result of sexual gratification called for stiffer punishment for offenders.
She described the Criminal Justice System as weak and called on advocates to boost campaigns and shame violators for positive change.
She also called for harmonisation of sexual laws for easy implementation as well as prosecution.
On his part, the National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities ASUU, Professor ABIODUN OGUNYEMI said although there were bad eggs in the system, the SHB would not address sexual harassment in the society as it is only targeted at lecturers.
Professor OGUNYEMI added that narrowing down the process of law to target individuals violates the ethics of making bills.
He therefore called on people to erase the impression that lecturers are predators.
Also speaking, the Transition Monitoring Group Chairman, Dr. ABIOLA AKINYODE-AFOLABI explained that SHB was meant to protect the integrity of tertiary institutions as well as students hence the need to be embraced by ASUU.
Contributing, a rape victim, and mid-wife from Adamawa State , DAVIDA AJIBOYE said she had been traumatised by the experience and urged that laws against sexual harassment should be strengthened to curb the menace.
The Sexual Harassment Bill which relates to only higher institutions seeks to protect students against sexual harassment by lecturers.