This is a positive one coming from the Nigerian Senate, as a bill seeking to criminalize sexual harassment from lecturer to student in tertiary institution.
The bill titled the sexual harassment in tertiary educational institutions prohibition bill, 2016 was sponsored by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege representing Delta central senatorial district.
The bill which is co-sponsored by 45 other senators specifically makes it’s a criminal offence for any educator in a university, polytechnic or any other tertiary educational institution to violate or exploit the student-lecturer fiduciary relationship for sexual pleasures.
The bill imposes stiff penalties on offenders in its overall objective of providing tighter statutory protection for students against sexual hostility and all forms of sexual harassment in tertiary schools. The bill provides a compulsory five-year jail term for lecturers who sexually harass students.
When passed into law, vice chancellors of universities, rectors of polytechnics and other chief executives of institutions of higher learning will go to jail for two years if they fail to act within a week on complaints of sexual harassment made by students.
The bill expressly allows sexually harassed students, their parents, or guardians to seek civil remedies in damages against sexual predator lecturers before or after their successful criminal prosecution by the State. However, it also seeks protection from sexual harassment for prospective students seeking admissions into higher educational institutions, students of generally low mental capacity and physically challenged students.
The Bill, whose sponsors span across all geo-political zones of the country, also stipulates as offences solicitation of sex or sexual advances by lecturers which result to intimidation, hostile or offensive environment for students. It makes provision for “institutional disciplinary procedures” to be followed by any sexually harassed student to report or submit a formal sexual harassment complaint within a tertiary institution to the administrative head of the institution.