Ovie Omo-Agege, deputy president of the senate, has urged parents and youth to support enactment of effective law against sexual harassment in work places and educational institutions.
In a statement by Yomi Odunuga, his special adviser on media and publicity, Omo-Agege said the support would accelerate the success of the bill towards becoming an effective law against sexual harassment in Nigeria.
“It is a problem that has caused academic injustice, depression and countless other negative effects on individuals and the society in various parts of the world. But the key to lasting change is for us to begin it within our own environment.
“I applaud the First Lady, Hajia Aisha Buhari, the First Lady of Ekiti, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and all those who stoutly rose in support of the BBC’s commendable journalistic endeavour that is effectively beaming light on a hidden menace.
“I am wholly convinced that the unique student-educator relationship of authority, dependency and trust should never be violated. By the maxim of loco parentis educators are like parents.
“They owe a special fiduciary duty of care to students under their authority – students who trust and depend on them to shape their future career paths.
“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.
“In 2016, with the support of several colleagues in the Senate, I tabled the Bill on the Prohibition of Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Institutions which provides for a five-year jail term or a fine of N5 million for any lecturer convicted for sexually harassing male or female students.”
Omo-Agege added that the bill also criminalised any act of neglect or failure by administrative heads of tertiary institutions to address complaints of sexual harassment within a specified period.
“It also made provisions to adequately punish anyone found to have levelled false allegations of harassment against lecturers and educators,” he said.
“I deeply appreciate the Academic Staff Union of Universities’ (ASUU) decisive change of position on this issue which they opposed three years ago.
“Nobody’s daughter deserves to be treated as ‘fringe benefit’ for anyone in position of trust and responsibility.”
He said the psychological trauma of sexual harassment had existed for too long and that was why the bill was reintroduced.
The depute senate president said that the punishment of five-year jail term for those found guilty should serve as deterrent in a society that urgently need to address the issue of sexual harassment.