The Senate on Thursday passed a bill to outlaw sexual advances from lecturers to students of tertiary institutions in the country.Any lecturer found guilty to have broken the law, when passed, will risk a maximum five-year jail term or N5m fine or both.
The Senate also abolished the “consent” defence claim by sexual assault and rape suspects, as contained in the criminal and penal codes.
The bill provides that, “An educator shall be guilty of committing an offence of sexual harassment against a student, if he or she has sexual intercourse with a student who is less than 18 years of age, an imbecile or of generally low mental capacity or blind or deaf or otherwise physically challenged.”
It also categorises it as an offence when such a person “has sexual intercourse with a student or demands for sex from a student or a prospective student as a condition to giving a grade or the granting of honours and scholarships, or the payment of stipend, allowance or other benefits, privileges or considerations.”
The bill further states, “An educator shall be guilty of committing an offence of sexual harassment against a student if he or she solicits sex from or makes sexual advances towards a student when the sexual solicitation or sexual advances result in an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for the student.
“Or directs or induces another person to commit any act of sexual harassment under this bill, or cooperates in the commission of sexual harassment by another person without which it would not have been committed; grabs or hugs or rubs or strokes or touches or pinches the breasts or hair or lips or buttocks or any other sensual parts of the body of a student.”
“Or displays, gives or sends by hand or courier or electronic (means) or any other means, naked or sexually explicit pictures or videos or sex related objects to a student.
“Or whistles or winks at a student or scream or exclaims or jokes or makes sexually complimentary or uncomplimentary remarks about a student’s physique.”
The “Bill for an Act to Make Provision for the Prohibition and Punishment of Sexual Harassment of Students by Educators in Tertiary Educational Institutions and for Related Matters” was sponsored by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta-Central).
Omo-Agege, while addressing journalists after the bill was passed, described it as a landmark for wives, daughters and women generally.
He said, “You will recall that immediately I get into the Senate, the first and major bill I sponsored was a bill to prohibit sexual harassment of students in our tertiary institutions. We had a reason for doing that.
“We did that because we felt that this menace had been there for so long and it had gone unchecked, but we have had our daughters, our sisters, our nieces and wives and students who have been harassed and nothing was done.”