The conversation about sexual harassment in Nigerian public institutions requires the serious attention of all stakeholders. The recent protest by the students of the law faculty of the University of Calabar (UNICAL) Cross River State against the law faculty top management accused of sexual harassment of female students, which culminated in the suspension of law professor Cyril Ndifon, is a serious issue for concern.
Strikingly, sexual harassment against women is as old as humanity. Most men are brutes and sometimes lose their thinking faculties and composure when they see women or ladies. Sexual harassment against women is a global phenomenon that is becoming rampant in all nooks and crannies of the world. It is bereft of social classes or ranking.
It happens in all strata of life. Even the so-called men of God are not immune to the temptation of sexual harassment. Many men of God lost their coveted position to their inability to control their “third leg” manhood against unholy sexual advances towards women.
The former president of the U.S., Donald Trump, was enmeshed in sexual harassment against many women prior to his emergence as president. Another former U.S. president almost lost his presidency to the sexual escapade with a lady; the secret affairs were blown open and unleashed to the public by a third party, even against the wishes of the two adults (President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinski) involved.
One of the worst countries for sexual harassment is Afghanistan. Not only are women being harassed frequently, but they are also being raped almost on a regular basis by highly placed individuals both within the government sphere and community axis.
Therefore, it is called the world’s most dangerous place for women. Similarly, India is another dangerous place where women’s and children’s honour is often violated with impunity. To forestall recurrent instances of women and female children harassment and violation, which India has gained notoriety for in the community of nations, the Indian Government, in collaboration with its Police Authority, has resorted to self-help by instituting a self-defense training taekwondo program for women to defend themselves from rapists and assailants.
I thought that the nasty experience of some lecturers imprisoned, suspended, and whose jobs were terminated because of sexual harassment would serve as a lesson to other randy lecturers, but far from it, one is amazed to read about the students protesting about sexual harassment in the faculty of law at the University of Calabar.
Also, in June 2022, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Abuja, Prof. Abdul-Rasheed Na’allah, announced that two lecturers were dismissed over sexual misconduct. Interestingly, a 2018 World Bank survey discovered that 70 percent of female graduates were sexually harassed in class by their classmates and lecturers.
This shows that our ivory towers are riddled with sex-for-mark corruption. This means that some public university lecturers are indulging in sexcapade. Obviously, there are many lecturers and teachers out there who take advantage of the meekness of girls and ladies to violate their honour against their wishes.
If politicians are being accused of corruption and stealing of public money to glaze their lives and self-egos, then sexual harassment perpetrated against students in whatever forms by lecturers is not only against the professional ethics of the profession but a grand moral corruption that destroys the carrier of many young women who refuse to surrender their womanhood to sex maniac opportunists.
While corrupt politicians could be accused of plundering the wealth of nations, lecturers or teachers who indulge in sexual harassment are corrupting the societal fabric by making unholy advances to sleep with their students for free marks. Sexual corruption is worse than financial corruption because most victims have been perpetually imprisoned in the bunker of their hearts by the assailant for as long as they live.
All over the world, women are asserting their freedom by openly reporting sexual assault and harassment. This culminated in the institutionalization of the #MeToo hashtag, which gained momentum in every nook and cranny of the world.
This is to say that girls and women should be bold enough to speak up by challenging the perpetrator and never hesitate to inform a third party at the inception of these nefarious activities. Like Obafemi Awolowo University’s anti-sexual harassment policy, other tertiary institutions across the country should put mechanisms in place to checkmate philandering in our ivory towers.
Female students and women should be encouraged and supported to resist attendant intimidation by reporting to the designated credible, unbiased authority that will investigate the allegation. Women are the future of the world; without them, humanity will face extinction like the flora and fauna of Siberia.
Sensitization seminars should be instituted by the university community and championed by experts to enlighten and educate undergraduate girls about their fundamental rights as students. The Sexual Ethics Committee (SEC) should be established by all higher institutions to monitor cases of sexual harassment and intimidation on campus.
A marking scheme should be prepared for all examinations, which must be submitted to the HOD immediately after the paper is written. In the case of suspected harassment, students should be encouraged to call for their papers to be remarked. Everything humanly possible should be done to protect the sanctity of girls in the custody of other randy lecturers.
Historically, men could equally be the object of sexual harassment and disdain in the hands of sexpots ever ready to exchange sex for marks. Joseph in the Bible was sexually harassed by Potiphar’s wife in the book of Genesis. Joseph’s resistance to Potiphar’s wife’s attempted seduction made the woman furious, and she in turn accused him of rape, which landed him in prison.
To forestall harassment from girls who may intentionally flaunt their bodies to torment lecturers, dress codes should be strictly designed and adhered to by the higher institutions and departments across the country. Finally, an anti-sexual harassment policy should be applicable to men to protect them from wild sex kittens on the prowl on our campuses.
Bello a social commentator, writes from Canada.