The Nigerian Senate in a bid to end the issues of sexual harassment being faced by young ladies studying at different tertiary institutions has on tuesday, 7th July, 2020 passed the bill seeking to stop sexual abuse of students in the nation’s tertiary institutions.

Judging from the rampant cases of reported cases of sexual harassment in our tertiary institution, the senate in 2016, was forced to propose a bill, known as the Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Education Institution Bill, which prescribes a 5 year jail term for lecturers and educators convicted of sexual harassment of either their male or female students and also ban lecturer-student relationships altogether.

According to the sponsor of the bill, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, explained that “Indeed there is no family in Nigeria where you don’t find a victim of sexual harassment…It is either your wife when she was younger or your daughter, your sister or even a niece who has gone through the tertiary education system at one point or the other…You will find out that they have had this brush with these lecturers who continue to see these young women as perquisite of their office as lecturers. We feel that is unacceptable. We have to put a stop to it.”

However, despite the novelty of this bill, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), vehemently opposed the bill and successfully lobbied for the bill to be dropped. The reason the union gave then for opposing the bill was that it was discriminatory because its targeted educators. They rather proposed legislation on dress code – the usual alibi used to justify rape and sexual harassment.

The Senate on Tuesday read for the third time and passed a bill seeking to stop sexual abuse of female students in the nation’s tertiary institutions.

It is Bill for an Act to prevent, prohibit and redress sexual harassment of students in tertiary educational institutions and for matters connected therewith, Bill, 2020. This bill was sponsored by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie-Omo Agege (Delta Central) and co-sponsored by 105 other Senators.

The bill which has 27 clauses, proposes up to 14 years jail term, with a minimum of 5 years, without an option of fine for any educator who commits sexual offenses in tertiary institutions.

The bill defines sexual offenses as including sexual intercourse with a student or demands for sex from a student or a prospective student or intimidating or creating a hostile or offensive environment for the student by soliciting for sex or making sexual advances.

Other forms of sexual harassment identified in the bill are grabbing, hugging, kissing, rubbing, stroking, touching, pinching the breasts or hair or lips or hips or buttocks or any other sensual part of the body of a student;

or sending by hand or courier or electronic or any other means naked or sexually explicit pictures or videos or sex-related objects to a student, and whistling or winking at a student or screaming, exclaiming, joking or making sexually complimentary or uncomplimentary remarks about a student’s physique or stalking a student.