The Sex for Grades Controversy

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Saturday letter2

Sex for grades phenomenon has been with us for a while, most especially in institutions of higher learning. They are now even prevalent in most secondary schools in the country.  Universities, secondary schools and even primary schools’ pupils are sexually assaulted by teachers.

    BBC Africa Eye did a great job bringing these acts into the light, making victims bold enough to speak up. The documentary highlighted a well-known phenomenon that some academics use their position to force students into having sex in exchange for grades in their tests and examinations.

     Since the report, BBC has been contacted by more than 120 people sharing personal stories of alleged abuse and harassment in the educational system.

     The First Lady of Nigeria, Aisha Buhari and many other celebrities have spoken on this subject calling for change and completely putting to an end these atrocities in our universities.

     A young lady who is 20 now told me of her experience in primary school. She was in primary 3. Her sports teacher, an elderly man of about 85years, abused her in his office and she has been scared to open up until this report was aired.

    The speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, said the revelation called for a moment of reckoning in the country, not only for those lecturers whose abuse of their position and the trust of their students has been caught on tape but those who are still hiding in the shadows.

     These absurd practices do not only happen in the educational system and also not only to the women folk, although it is common amongst them.

     Men abused by female lecturers should be sure to speak up so that this menace would be curbed once and for all.

     This on the other hand in some cases is the fault of the students (ladies) who take themselves to their lecturers with mutual consent.

     These ladies decide not to attend lectures or write tests because they have ways to settle their courses with the lecturers involved. Lecturers should learn to be upright, disciplined and flee from every form of corruption as well as reporting to school authorities those involved in these practices. Without fear students that are molested or threatened by their lecturers should be bold enough to speak up and try as much as possible to get enough evidence so as to create a good case against them.

      The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has called for a thorough investigation and sanctioning of the lecturers indicted in order to sanitize the university system.

      Lecturers that were accused have been suspended till investigations are concluded. In 2016, the Senate had passed the Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Education Institution Bill which provided a five-year jail term for any lecturer convicted for sexually harassing a male or female student. The bill was sponsored by Senator Ovie Omo’Agege who is now the Deputy President of the Senate.

 This bill also proposed a N5 million fine as an alternative just as it had provisions for educators who may be falsely accused by their students to initiate processes by which students could be punished for false accusations.

      ASUU kicked against the proposed law because according to it, “in all intents and purposes, it undermines university autonomy.”

      Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has proposed the introduction of the legislation to carry out the chemical castration of rapists. The group has gone ahead to send the new proposed law to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen; the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

      Parents should ask their children more questions and learn to listen. Support them so as to speak up and end abuses and sexual harassments in all sectors:

 from sex for grades, to rape, sex for employment and many other hideous requests. It is time for everyone to speak up and speak out and for those who are bold enough to speak, we need to stand with them and not silence them.  The culture of silence has endured enough.

      Let’s all rise to build a better educational system for ourselves and generations to come.

Victoria Ukpong, vickyukpong98@gmail.com