From one higher institution to another, the cases of sexual harassment and bribery in the country have become a daily phenomenon that is giving overwhelming alarm to the concerned stakeholders.
The case of Professor Cyril Ndifon’s, Dean of the Faculty of Law University of Calabar who was alleged to have sexually assaulted a 20 year old, 400 level law student of the institution and Dr. Akin Baruwa, a lecturer with the University of Lagos, allegedly raped an 18 year old female admission seeker are just few of the thousands of sexual harassment cases that are reported in various public and private institutions in the country.
In a report that was conducted in 2015 by United Nation International Children Education Fund (UNICEF), it was that reported one in four girls and one in ten boys in Nigeria had experienced sexual violence before the age of 18 and six out of ten children in Nigeria experience emotional, physical or sexual abuse before the gaining admission into university.
Quite unfortunate, it is pertinent to know that the vast majority of incidents of sexual assault against female higher institution students in Nigeria are never reported for different reasons known, among them, victim shame, stigma, character assassination, public backlash and limited access to justice for victims.
Sexual harassment is an unlawful act to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. It can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.
In fighting this menace, Dream Project for Africa – an international Non-Governmental Organisation based in United State and Nigeria with the focus of creating programs to educate and liberate people that are oppressed has shown commitment to support sexual harassment bill that will soon be passed into law to fight sexual harassment in the country.
The Executive Director and Founder of the organisation, Nelson Michael said this at a press conference to give the account of organisation’s program on ending sexual harassment and bribery in Nigeria higher institutions.
Nelson said that the sexual harassment bill is the best for the first time in a long time that will happen to the country.
The bill that is being sponsored by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, senator representing Delta Central, is an act to make provision for the prohibition of sexual harassment of students by educators in tertiary educational institutions and for matters connected therewith.
“The bill secures the future of our children; it empowers our women and other men. It guarantees this generation and generations to come a future of innovative leaders and will offer the chance for Nigerians to get a fair shot at becoming fully developed.”
On the impact of the organisation in abating the menace, Nelson mentioned that they have taken the campaign to University of Lagos, University of Ilorin and Imo State University which has helped sensitizing students to fight the menace.
According to him, “we have committed over ten thousand dollars of hours of human labour to carry out awareness on the detestable rate of academic corruption in our institutions through conferences and rallies.”
Nelson also mentioned that the Dreams Project constantly monitors the activities of governments, leaders, and influential organizations to understand the impact their actions have on African citizens and provide full assessment of the political and social climate.
In making the initiative impactful, he said that the Dream Project for Africa partners with youth, students organisations and government in designing, implementing and evaluating programs that can elevate communities and nations to fully develop.
“We team up with veteran journalists, scholars, legal practitioners, the government in promoting a corruption-free learning environment.”
He gave statistics of 78% of Nigerian students that have confirmed that the organisation’s campaigns have helped them to see significant reduction in rape and bribery cases in higher institutions.
The End Sexual Harassment and Bribery in Nigeria Colleges (ESHBNC) is a yearlong advocacy project that has helped to reduce the cases of rape and bribery in Nigeria Colleges.
Nelson wants children to be educated on existing laws and democratic options to prevent future generations from getting stuck in the cycle of corruption and violence through essay competitions, TV and internet dramas and democratic activism that exposes children to progressive thinking and challenge them to question the status quo.
He wants the government to stay up to its responsibility of providing qualitative and essential life for the people.
He said that the people need assurance of hope of the leaders to have their will renewed “If it is true that where there is a will, there is a way, then until we renew the will of our people, we will never find our way”, he said.