Bill seeking criminalization of sexual harassment suffers setback at House of Reps.

A bill seeking to prohibit and punish sex offenders in educational institutions suffered a setback in the house of representatives on Thursday.

The senate sent the bill to the lower legislative chamber for concurrence.

While moving the bill on the floor of the house on Thursday, Femi Gbajabiamila, majority leader, expressed concern that it did not take care of the other spheres of the society.

Gbajabiamila said the bill ought to take care of work place, religious institutions, among others.

He said the house should take into cognisance some of these issues so as to have a more comprehensive law.

Contributing to the debate, Ayo Omideran, a lawmaker from Osun state, said sexual harassment in places of learning was an important issue, emphasising that men were also victims.

Omideran said there should be laws prohibiting and punishing sex offenders in other institutions not just places of learning.

Yakubu Dogara, the speaker, agreed with the submissions and stepped the bill down pending consultations between both chambers of the national assembly.

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) had kicked against the bill, describing it as a violation of the rights of its members.

Biodun Ogunyemi, president of the union, had said this at a public hearing on the bill, organised by the senate committee on judiciary, human rights and legal matters.

The sexual harassment bill was sponsored by Ovie Omo-Agege, a Delta senator, and co-sponsored by 57 of his colleagues.

The bill seeks to criminalise sexual harassment in tertiary institutions and, among other things, proposes a five-year jail term for lecturers found guilty of sexually harassing of students.

FG Worried About Allegations Of Sexual Harassment In Institutions- Minister

Alhaji Abubakar Malami, the Attorney -General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, says the Federal Government is worried and deeply concerned about allegations of sexual harassment of students in institutions of learning.

Malami made the statement at the 5th National Conference of Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) in Umaru Waziri Polytechnic, Birnin Kebbi, on Tuesday.

“Government is worried and deeply concerned about allegations of sexual harassment of students, the monetisation of marks and degrees and absence of due process in the award of contracts by Polytechnic Governing Councils, provosts and other administrators ,among other allegations,”  he said.

Malami, who was represented by Dr Muhammad Isah of the Faculty of Law, Bayero University, Kano, urged ASUP to take a leading role in addressing the issues through positive actions and advocacy.

“Addressing these issues will in no doubt retain the relevance of ASUP within the educational sector,” he said.

Read More:

FG worried about allegations of sexual harassment in institutions — Minister

Sexual Harassment Bill: Lecturers Fire Back At Lawmakers

Sexual harassment, as an act, is as old as man. But until recently, it was learnt, there was no law, in the country, specifically targeted at tackling the menace, which has remained a recurring decimal in virtually all universities’ campuses, without exception.o

Alarmed at the rate of the menace on campuses, the Senate recently, passed a Bill, which would in the thinking of the Senate, helped stem the tide of the menace.

But some lecturers think that the issue was being over-exaggerated, as such, they are asking the Nigerian lawmakers to concentrate their energies on other worthy ventures, and not mundane ones, like sexual harassment.

The Bill, known as the Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Education Institution Bill, prescribes a 5-year jail term for lecturers and educators convicted of sexual harassment of either their male or female students, just as it made provisions for a fine of N5 million, should the accused be convicted by a competent court of law.

And taking into cognisance, the fact that some students may just take advantage of the law, to raise false alarm, the Bill, it was further gathered, has also provided cover, for this category of lecturers, but not without a caveat. The caveat is that the lecturer, so falsely accused, must be acquitted by a competent court of law. Once that happens, the Student, who raised the false alarm “shall be expelled or suspended, as the University deems fit.”

According to the lecturer, Dr. Aniekan Brown, who is a Senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology, University of Uyo, the law was a case of vendetta from the Senate, against the academic community, since the Senate has not told Nigerians what constitutes sexual harassment.

“As we speak, officially, I don’t think that we have up 150,000 people who lecture in the Nigerian universities. And out of about 181 million Nigerians, the Senate, in the myriad of laws available for them to evolve, will target academic staff, something tells me there is something vendetta about that.

“Granted,   it is their responsibility to make laws; but I wished they had started with themselves, by beginning to query how much of harassment they have offered to women as Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria before getting to deal with some other Nigerians.

“I’m not saying that there may not be harassment here and there. It happens in banks; it happens everywhere.  But it shouldn’t be particularised to any sub-sector of the Nigerian economy; it should be full blown. But for them to zero in on the Nigerian lecturers, it means there is something personal about it. So, what happens if somebody doesn’t harass from the university, but begin to harass from the bank point of view, from church, from Senate, from mosque and every other place?

“So, when you sit back, you realise that it was myopic for them to want to close in on lecturers. In any case, I don’t expect any lecturer to fall prey to such a farce. And on the whole, I think the Senators would have thought of better things, instead of coming to deal with this minute issue,” Brown, said.

On her part, a female lecturer in the Communication Arts Department, Dr Nevelyn Bata, said there was need to be careful, because, some of the sexual harassment claims, students make, are spurious.

“But if the claims are verifiable, I think, there should be some restrictions to help bring down the incidences, if at all it exists. I’m saying if at all it exists because,  all the time I had stayed in the University  as a student,  I wasn’t  harassed.  So, when you hear of claims of lecturers harassing students, it sounds strange to those who never had the experience,” she added.

She said further that most of those who raise the alarm are those “who have issues, who don’t sit down to read; they have issues in their academics and when they fail they begin to cook up all stories. Well, for lecturers, who would condescend to harass students who they are old enough to be parents to, I think, the law should catch up with them.”

Like his colleague, Dr. Aniedi Ikpang, who is the Dean, Faculty of Law of the University of Uyo, also argued that there were more pressing things in the country that the National Assembly could have legislated on; since, by his own claim, he has never received any report or experienced any sexual harassment since becoming a lecturer more than 15 years ago.

Read More:

Woman Gets $18 Million From Boss After Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

After a bombshell sexual harassment lawsuit that rocked the tabloids, a former Wall Street worker has won a whopping $18 million from her former boss.

Hanna Bouveng, 25, from Sweden, sued Benjamin Wey, 43, owner of the New York Global Group, claiming he pressured her into a sexual relationship and retaliated by firing and harassing her after she broke it off.

According to Bouveng, Wey, who is married, began pursuing her after he hired her in 2013, but she rejected him. Eventually, after renting her an apartment, gifting her with the likes of Prada bags, and plying her with alcohol, he wore her down — and she was apparently traumatized. “She was debased. She was degraded. She was defiled. He was delighted … He thought he owned her,” attorney David Ratner reportedly told jurors.

Hanna ended the relationship, refusing to have sex with him again, but “he said if I didn’t show him tangible love, he was kicking me out by August 1,” Bouveng told the court of the events that led to her firing.

And this is where the retaliation comes in: Wey began publishing nasty stories about Bouveng on his blog, and, jealous of her new boyfriend, he emailed racist comments to her father. The harassment escalated to the point where Bouveng felt the need to leave the country and go back to Sweden — but Wey found her in the café where she was working, an allegedly threatening gesture that “felt like an intent to destroy whatever I would do,” Bouveng said.

Read More: cosmopolitan