The Nigerian Senate has passed a bill which deals with the sexual harassment of students in universities and other tertiary institutions
The bill was passed in plenary on Tuesday, July 7 , 2020, shortly after a report was submitted to the chamber by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, chair of the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.
The bill was introduced by Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, and co-sponsored by 106 senators amid a series of high-profile cases of students being sexually assaulted by their lecturers.
The bill prevents lecturers from having or asking students or prospective students for sexual intercourse; making sexual advances; or directing another person to commit any act of sexual harassment.
The bill also forbids lecturers from whistling, winking, stalking, making sexual jokes, or making remarks about a student’s physique that are sexually flattering or uncomplimentary.
We are also prohibited from grabbing, embracing, kissing, rubbing, stroking, touching, or pinching a student’s body’s breasts, hair, lips, thighs, buttocks, or any other sensual portion.
The bill also provides that the consent of a student to a sexual relationship with a lecturer can not be granted.
Upon conviction, offenders may be sentenced to a maximum jail term of 14 years, fined the sum of N5 million or both.
The Universities’ Academic Workers Union (ASUU) opposed the bill, saying it is targeting a specific class.
Senator Bamidele, however, said the bill ‘s goal was to outlaw the offense of student sexual assault and criminalize the act of misconduct or inability of administrative heads to answer student grievances.
“We have observed that sexual harassment in our tertiary institutions is one of the major factors responsible for the decline in academic excellence in the country today, because this ugly trend has compromised hard work, merits and transparency,” he said.
The bill will be forwarded for competition to the House of Representatives, and then forwarded to President Muhammadu Buhari for either rejection or signing into law.
The bill is entitled “A Bill for an Act to Avoid, Ban and Remedy Students’ Sexual Abuse in and for matters related to tertiary education, 2019”