Sexual Harassment Bill Passes Second Reading

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Omololu Ogunmade in Abua
A bill seeking a five-year jail term for lecturers in tertiary institutions who exploit their vantage positions to subject female students to sexual harassment yesterday passed second reading.

Tagged: ‘Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Educational Institutions Prohibition Bill, 2016,’ the bill which was sponsored by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta Central) along with 45 other senators “makes it a criminal offence for any educator in a university, polytechnic or any other tertiary educational institution who violate or exploit the student-lecturer fiduciary relationship for sexual pleasures.”

The bill makes it mandatory for any vice chancellor, provost and rector of a university, polytechnic and college of education to promptly act on the report of any sexual harassment by a female student, failing which he said such authority would be jailed for two years.

He said: “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. The bill 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,” Omo-Agege said.
The bill was referred to the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters. The committee was asked to conduct public hearing and report findings within four weeks.