By Isa Isawade
The sexual harassment bill with title “A Bill for an Act to Prevent, Prohibit and Redress Sexual Harassment of Students in Tertiary Educational Institutions and for other matters connected therewith 2019”, sponsored by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, on Wednesday scaled second reading on the floor of the Senate.
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 offences in tertiary institutions.
The bill defines sexual offences 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 listed by the bill include 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.
Senator Omo-Agege, during debate, said the most effective way to deal with the offence of sexual harassment in Nigerian tertiary institutions was to penalise such act of impropriety.
He argued that sexual harassment must be defined in tertiary educational institutions as statutory rape with strict liability for offenders to be prosecuted easily.
The bill, however, prescribes expulsion for students who falsely accuse educators of sexual harassment.
According to Omo-Agege, “An educator whose character is maligned is at liberty to sue for defamation under the law of defamation which is well-settled in our jurisprudence and needs no duplication in this bill.”