Thursday, July 9, 2020

Nigerian Senate passes sexual harassment bill

Nigeria's Senate has passed a bill aimed at combating sexual harassment as part of a broader move to uphold ethics in the nation's universities, legislators said.

University lecturers found guilty of sexually harassment or teachers who make sexual overtures towards students could be jailed for two years under the proposed law.

It also prescribes fines or jail terms for university administrators who fail to probe allegations of sexual misconduct brought against staff members.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan described the proposal as "landmark legislation."

"We have to protect our daughters from predators," Lawan said. "We want our tertiary institutions to be a very safe environment for everyone, and this is a legislation that will ensure that wish," he said in a statement issued by his office Tuesday.

Students found guilty of falsely accusing lecturers of sexual misconduct could also be suspended.

The Senate in a statement on Wednesday said the bill had been sent to Nigeria's lower house for deliberation. Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari would also have to consent to the bill for it to become a law. A draft of the legislation was first introduced in the Senate in 2016.

Lawmakers revisited the bill and passed a motion to investigate the growing cases of sexual harassment in 2018 after master's degree student Monica Osagie, who alleged her professor asked her for sex to upgrade her marks, granted CNN an exclusive interview about the allegations.

The lecturer, Richard Akindele, was fired from the Obafemi Awolowo University after the interview, which drew public discourse to the case.

Akindele was jailed for two years for demanding sexual benefits from the student in December 2018.


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