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Sexual Harassment Bill Is Discrimination Against Male Lecturers – ASUU

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Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has faulted the recently passed bill on sexual harassment and rape, describing it as discrimination against male lecturers.

It would be recalled that on July 7, the Senate passed the bill on sexual harassment that seeks to ‘protect students against sexual harassment’ as well as ‘prevent sexual harassment of students by educators in tertiary institutions.’

Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, the National President of ASUU, has however expressed concerns about the bill during a Town Hall meeting on Monday, with critical stakeholders in Jos, Plateau state.

The Town Hall meeting was organised by the university of Jos chapter of the union, theNation reports.

He noted that, the bill passed by the Assembly, though, yet to be signed into law, is ostensibly targeted at its members.

Prof. Ogunyemi, also maintained that, the Bill is discriminatory and also targeted at the male lecturers.

According to him;

Our reaction to that Bill is that, it is discriminatory and is targeted at male lecturers. We do not want a situation, where male lecturers will begin to say they do not want to teach female students, because they say we should not smile to female students. So a time may come, when male lecturer will say, we would not teach female students, let them get female lecturers, let them get female supervisor.

I am not sure, we want that, and that is not also healthy for the society, because at one point or the other, there will be a point of interface. So, what we are seeing is that, we have laws in the society, that already addressed issues of sexual harassment, issues of rape.

He added;

Another form of victimization is that male students can also be raped in one way or the other and this has not been taken into account or has this type of bill passed. We went to the public hearing and we read our objections, well, we have not seen the newly passed bill, but, what we are told is that our views will be taken into account. We said, if they are laws in the society that already addressed the issues of harassment and rape, why are we duplicating efforts?

Prof. Ogunyemi further argued that;

If it meant to cover all and some strata of the educational system, this means it could be a bill meant to cover all genders or both genders, male or female, which we have not seen. Our worries is that, all their talks is centred on the higher institutions, which should stop, because they are stigmatising lecturers and is like they are labelling lecturers as criminals or potential criminals.

Ogunyemi said;

We can still raise our voices against that bill to ensure that it will promote equity, fairness and then, that is where we can have justice for all. We are against sexual harassment of our students. We do not support it in any forms.

The anti-sexual harassment bill was originally introduced in 2016 but did not pass both houses of parliament.

It was however reintroduced in the Senate on October 9, two days after a BBC documentary by investigative journalist,Kiki Mordi, exposed two lecturers of the University of Lagos, and a lecturer of the University of Ghana for sexual harassment.

This sparked outrage on social media and many called for the intervention of the Federal and State governments.

According to the bill, any person who commits the offences of sexual harassment of students shall in conviction be sentenced to imprisonment for 14 years or to a fine of N5million or both.

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