Thursday, October 10, 2019

Nigeria seeks anti-sexual harassment law after #SexForGrades film

The Nigerian senate has introduced a bill that aims to prevent the sexual harassment of university students.

The proposed legislation follows a BBC investigation that uncovered alleged sexual misconduct by lecturers in Nigeria and Ghana.

The senate's deputy president said he hoped the BBC's investigation would help energise support for the bill.

Senator Ovie Omo-Agege said that he regarded sexual harassment in universities as unacceptable.

If the bill were to become law it would be illegal for lecturers to make any sexual advances towards students.

And under the proposed law, which was read in the senate on Wednesday, teaching staff could face up to 14 years in jail for having sexual relationships with their students.

The anti-sexual harassment bill was originally introduced in 2016 but didn't pass both houses of parliament.

Critics rejected the bill because it did not cover sexual harassment in the workplace and included a defence for consent. The defence for consent has been removed from the latest bill.

Footage of alleged sexual misconduct by academics at the University of Lagos and the University of Ghana was broadcast on Monday in Sex for Grades - a documentary by the BBC's Africa Eye investigative unit.

The documentary prompted outrage over harassment in Nigeria and Ghana and led to the suspension of four lecturers featured in the film. The suspended lecturers have denied the allegations.

What did the film show?

Four lecturers were secretly filmed allegedly propositioning or sexually harassing the BBC's undercover reporters.

Dr Boniface Igbeneghu, a lecturer at the University of Lagos and local pastor, was filmed making inappropriate remarks and requests toward an undercover journalist, who was posing as a prospective student aged 17, and later physically harassing her and asking to kiss her inside his locked office

Dr Igbeneghu then appeared to threaten to tell her mother if she was "disobedient" towards him.

The full hour-long documentary also featured interactions with two lecturers at the University of Ghana.

Both of the men, Professor Ransford Gyampo and Dr Paul Kwame Butakor, have been suspended but denied they were offering "sex for grades" in the undercover exchanges.


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