The Deputy President of the Senate, Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege has expressed concern over the growing menace of sexual harassment in the nation’s educational institutions, even as he called on stakeholders to come up with a draft model sexual harassment policy.
Senator Omo-Agege stated this in Abuja at the National Stakeholders Engagement and Presentation on Model Sexual Harassment Policies for Educational Institutions in Nigeria.
Yomi Odunuga, Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, to the Deputy President of the Senate stated this in a statement on Tuesday.
The event was put together by the Independent Corrupt Practices And Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Ford Foundation.
Represented by his Chief of Staff, Dr Otive Igbuzor, the Delta Central lawmaker called on stakeholders to fine-tune the draft model policy to enable authorities put an end to the menace of sexual harassment in educational institutions.
According to him, sexual harassment encompasses a wide range of unwelcome sexually oriented and gender offensive behaviours that contribute to a hostile learning environment.
Such a policy, he noted, is long overdue even as he applauded the anti-graft agency and Ford Foundation for taking the bold step to organise the event.
“The scourge of sexual harassment with its obnoxious sub-culture of sex for grades in our tertiary institutions is a corrupt act, which can cause unexpected harm as it negatively impacts the standards of education in our tertiary institutions. The sexual harassment law protects the right of students to learn peaceably, deprived of any form of harassment. Without any doubt, our students, especially daughters and wives, deserve tertiary learning environments devoid of sexual harassment.
“Tertiary education is a serious business that should not be corrupted. That is why this intervention of the Independent Corrupt Practices And Other Related Offences Commission and the Ford Foundation on a Model Sexual Harassment Policy for Educational Institutions in the country is very timely. It is my sincere hope that educational institutions will be encouraged through this project to introduce policies that will guide all stakeholders in their institutions on how to control and hopefully prevent sexual harassment and where it happens how to respond in the interest of all that is involved.
“I expect that all the stakeholders present will use the opportunity for the presentation of the draft model sexual harassment policy, to discuss and make meaningful contributions, including suggesting ways to fine-tune the draft model policy, to enable us to put an end the menace of sexual harassment in our educational institutions”, he said.
The lawmaker said to combat the menace of sexual harassment in our educational institutions, he sponsored the Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Educational Institutions Prohibition, Prevention and Redressal Bill, 2019 Senate Bill (SB) 77 in the Senate.
The bill seeks to criminalize any act of neglect or failure by administrative heads of tertiary institutions to address complaints of sexual harassment within a specified period.
It also made provisions to adequately punish anyone found to have levelled false allegations of harassment against lecturers and educators and mposes a punishment of a five-year jail term for those found guilty of sexual harassment.
The Deputy President of the Senate said the legislation would send a strong signal to perverts who abuse students under their care.