Nigeria: CSOs Make Demand over Sexual Harassment

Gender Mobile Initiative (GMI) has called for the development of a comprehensive sexual harassment policy in Nigeria.

The Executive Director of the civil society organisation (CSO), Omowumi Ogunrotimi, made the call at a summit on ‘Anti-Sexual Harassment in Education Institutions’ in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

The summit was organised by the CSO in collaboration with the Independent Corrupt Practice and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

According to Ogunrotimi, 70 percent of the female population in the country’s school system have experienced sexual harassment.

‘Perhaps the recent statistics quoted by the World Bank Group on women, law and business on the prevalence of campus sexual harassment needs to be re-echoed for us to understand the urgency required in addressing sexual harassment’, she said.

According to a 2019 survey conducted by NOIPOLLS, about three in ten Nigerians disclosed that they knew someone who had been raped in the past and the rape victims were particularly minors and young adults between the ages of one and 15.

‘That 70 percent of female students experience sexual harassment is an affront to our shared humanity and values as individuals and as a nation’, Ogunrotimi added.

‘While Nigerian tertiary institutions have become the centre ports for power-driven gender-based violence and harassment, the challenge has not received the required corresponding level of attention.

‘This spate of violence has been mainly attributed to lack of a comprehensive anti-sexual harassment policy, lack of confidentiality-driven reporting channels and poor institutional response’.

For his part, Chairman of the ICPC, Prof Bolaji Owasanoye, attributed the recent spike in sexual harassment cases to the culture of silence.

He said, ‘It is a deviation from the norm for an official of an institution to use his office or position to demand, receive, obtain or attempt to obtain any form of sexual gratification in order to execute his or her duties or as reward for doing his or her duties.

‘The ideal thing is for official duties to be done with integrity, good conscience and diligence without the expectation of any unlawful benefit, but it seems the reverse has almost become the norm.

‘It has become quite common for teaching and non-teaching staff to demand or expect sexual gratification from their students to whom they are supposed to serve as parents’.

Meanwhile, a group of CSOs has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgency assent to the Anti-Sexual Harassment Bill.

A member of the group and Executive Director of Centre for Awareness on Justice and Accountability (CAJA), Kabiru Dakata, made the appeal in a statement.

Photo source: UN Women

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