Expand the Sexual Harassment Bill to tackle workplace, other spheres of the society- NBA
The Chairperson of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Abuja Branch, Hauwa Shekarau has said in order to have a holistic Sexual Harassment Bill, there is need to expand the Bill to cover workplace and all spheres of the society.
Speaking during a webinar organised by the Network of Reproductive Health Journalists, Nigeria, NRHJN, Shekarau who criticised the Bill said, it should go beyond higher institutions of learning to curb sexual offences in the society as well as criminalise sex offenders.
The NBA Chairperson commended the National Assembly, stating that, "though the Bill is a sign of progress but it needs to be broadened."
In her analysis, Shekarau, said that the Bill in some sections abolished mutual consent as a defence in sexual harassment cases in tertiary institutions.
While highlighting some of the objectives of the Sexual Harassment Bill, she said mutual consent was not an excuse for sexual violence as the only defence is on the grounds of marriage between the educator and student in higher institutions.
Shekarau noted that Nigeria's educational standard was being compromised as a result of sexual gratification called for stiffer punishment for offenders describing the Criminal Justice System as weak.
The NBA Chairperson called on advocates to boost campaigns and shame violators for positive change as well as harmonisation of sexual laws for easy implementation and prosecution.
Although there were bad eggs in the system, Professor Abiodun Ogunyemi, the National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, said the Bill would not address sexual harassment in the society as it is only targeted at lecturers.
He further said that narrowing down the process of law to target individuals violates the ethics of making bills, calling on people to erase the impression that lecturers are predators.
Commenting, theTransition Monitoring Group Chairman, Dr. Abiola Akinyode-Afolabi said that the Sexual Harassment Bill was meant to protect the integrity of tertiary institutions as well as students hence the need to be embraced by ASUU.
Narrating her ordeal, Davida Ajiboye, a rape survivor and mid-wife from Adamawa State, said that she went through psychological trauma that affected her self-esteem despite surviving sexual violence.
Ajiboye advocated for laws against the scourge to be strengthened in order to curb the menace.
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