Senate Passes Bill Against Harassment in Tertiary Institutions

Senate President Ahmad Lawan

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Nigerian Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that prohibits sexual harassment of students in tertiary institutions, making the offence punishable by 14 years jail term and N5 million fine.

The bill passed third reading after a clause by clause consideration of the report from its committee on Judiciary Human Rights and Legal Matters, led by the Chairman, Mr Opeyemi Bamidele (All Progressives Congress, Ekiti Central).

According to the provisions of the bill, any educator found guilty of committing an offence of sexual harassment is liable on conviction to 14 years imprisonment or a fine of N5 million or both.

The bill titled A Bill for an Act to Prevent, Prohibit and Redress Sexual Harassment of Students in Tertiary Educational Institutions and for other matters connected therewith 2019 was sponsored by Deputy President of the Senate, Mr Ovie Omo -Agege, (APC, Delta Central) and was co-sponsored by 105 other Senators.

The bill defines sexual offences as including sexual intercourse with a student or demands for sex from a student or a prospective student or intimidating or creating a hostile or offensive environment for the student by soliciting for sex or making sexual advances.

Other forms of sexual harassment identified in the bill are grabbing, hugging, kissing, rubbing, stroking, touching, pinching the breasts or hair or lips or hips or buttocks or any other sensual part of the body of a student; or sending by hand or courier or electronic or any other means naked or sexually explicit pictures or videos or sex-related objects to a student, and whistling or winking at a student or screaming, exclaiming, joking or making sexually complimentary or uncomplimentary remarks about a student’s physique or stalking a student.

Lawmakers regard the bill as a landmark achievement, as students can now feel safe and protected.

The bill will now await the assent of President Muhammadu Buhari so it can become a full-fledged law.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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