Nigeria is Re-introducing a New Bill on Sexual Harassment
The bill comes after the BBC exposé on professors demanding sex from university students in West Africa.
A few days ago, BBC Africa Eye premiered an undercover exposé called Sex for Grades. A team of female reporters, led by Kiki Mordi, verified claims made by multiple female university students in Ghana and Nigeria that their male lecturers have long been engaging in sexual misconduct and extortion. Since the documentary was released to the public, there has been widespread outrage which has led to one of the alleged perpetrators Dr. Boniface Igbeneghu being suspended from his post at the University of Lagos. Another of the alleged perpetrators, Ghanaian Professor Ransford Gyampo, recently dismissed the documentary as "neocolonial" and swore to file a lawsuit. In light of these revelations, the Nigerian Senate has responded swiftly and proposed a bill that aims to prevent the sexual harassment of university students by criminalizing any sexual advances made by lecturers towards students.
The Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Ageg, has urged Nigerians to support the bill being enacted into the law. The politician released a statement which said that:
"I applaud the First Lady, Hajia Aisha Buhari; the First Lady of Ekiti, Erelu Bisi Fayemi; the Academic Staff Union of Universities and all those who stoutly rose in support of the BBC's commendable journalistic endeavor that is effectively beaming light on a hidden menace...It must therefore be extremely offensive to a reasonable mind where an educator treats students as 'perquisites' of his office...As a father, it is an issue that I cannot just accept. It is a shame on our conscience as a people. We will stop it."
However, this is not the first time that the sexual harassment bill has been proposed. Back in 2016, the bill was rejected by the two houses of parliament because it reportedly did not cover sexual harassment in the workplace and also included a defense for consent, according to the BBC. The President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, claimed that the bill was targeting men specifically and said that, "That bill was too restricted. What the lawmakers did was to narrow down on lecturers." He also added that, "Laws should be made open; not saying lecturers, male lecturers, who are in tertiary institutions harassing female students."