Calls for strong legal framework against the menace
A leading pro-democracy and civil Rights advocacy group – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has demanded concrete steps by the Academic Staff Union of Universities and the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANA) to tackle the incidence of sexual violations of admission seekers and students.
HURIWA said that the cases of sexual violations of students and seekers of admissions into public universities are widespread, however maintained that in 2016, the Senate passed the Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Education Institution Bill, which provides for a five-year jail term for a lecturer convicted for sexually harassing male or female students. The bill was sponsored by Senator OvieOmoAgege who is now the Deputy President of the Senate.
HURIWA recalled that the bill also proposed a fine of N5million in the alternative just as it also made provisions for lecturers and educators who may be falsely accused by their students to initiate processes by which students could be punished for false accusation.
HURIWA recalled that regrettably there was no concurrence by the House of Representatives so the Bill did not see the light of day even as the Academic Staff Union of Universities in Nigeria (ASUU) also kicked against the Bill because according to it, “in all intents and purposes, the Bill undermines University autonomy.”
Conversely, HURIWA has also proposed the introduction of a legislation to stipulate the chemical castration of rapists convicted for violating the dignity of children even as the Rights group has sent the proposal for the new law to the Federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami; Minister of Women Affairs Mrs. Pauline Tallen; Senate President Ahmed Lawan and Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila. HURIWA disclosed that a bill is already drafted which would be sponsored by a member of the Federal House of Representatives from Anambra state who had indicated his interest to so do.
HURIWA stated thus: “In Nigeria rape is unlawful carnal knowledge of a female by a male. It could be non-consensual sex with an adult female or carnal knowledge of a female child or minor. On the other hand Chemical castration is the use of anaphrodisiac drugs to lower sexual drive. It does not involve removing a person’s testicles like surgical castration but only the use of drugs delivered by injection to render the testicles irrelevant. According to the American Journal of Criminal Law, 1990, chemical castration “reduces the production and effects of testosterone, thus diminishing the compulsive sexual fantasy. Formerly inconsistent and commanding urges can be voluntarily controlled.”
On Jurisdictions with Chemical Castration Law, the Rights group stated that: “chemical castration is legal in 8 States of USA although not all States make the treatment mandatory. In 1996 California became the first US State to legalize it by requiring mandatory treatment for repeat sex offenders but discretionary injections for first time offenders. Florida and Texas followed suit but in the latter State, the offender must be at least 21 years of age.
In Iowa, chemical castration is allowed in all cases of serious sex offences. In Louisiana, judges can sentence convicted rapists to chemical castration. The State of Alabama law passed in 2019 requires, as a condition of parole, that convicted sex offender of a child under the age of 13 undergo the treatment which will continue until a court rules otherwise.”
“In Canada, the courts cannot order offenders to undergo chemical castration – they can only impose psychiatric treatment, which can include the use of anti-libido medication. In 2006, the Canadian Court of Appeal ruled it constitutional for the National Parole Board to require that recidivist sex offenders, if found to be long-term offenders, be chemically castrated as conditions of release.”
The Rights group which also condemned the university authorities in Nigeria for failing to rein the rampaging group of bullies in the guise of lecturers who have continued to rape female students in exchange for grades and admission said sexual harassment of females and males in schools have reached an epidemic dimension demanding comprehensive national panacea.
HURIWA recalled that universities in Nigeria caught global attention not because of academic breakthroughs that earned them some laurels but because of the alleged sexual violations and harassments of students and prospective students by randy lecturers.
HURIWA recalled that the media focus on the nation’s universities was triggered by the release by BBC African Eye of video allegedly showing academics propositioning undercover female reporters.
Wearing a secret camera, a reporter, Kiki Mordi, had allegedly visited Dr. Boniface Igbeneghu, a lecturer of the Department of European Languages and Integrated Studies, Faculty of Arts, University of Lagos (UNILAG), posing as a 17-year-old admission seeker. The clip went on to show the lecturer allegedly making sexual overtures to the reporter.
HURIWA citing the BBC stated that a lecturer at the institution’s faculty of science who pleaded anonymity informed reporters that many of his colleagues had become jittery, fearing that their sexual escapades might be blown open. The lecturer noted that the advent of social media had made it more difficult for randy lecturers to hide.
HURIWA recalled that last Thursday, at Bayero University Kano, Ghanaian investigative reporter, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, had told participants during a workshop on journalism “on Monday, October 7, the BBC African Eye will show another film on Nigeria. The lecturers seated here today might not be happy about this. The film is about sex for real and some Nigerian universities are featured in the film.”
Barely hours after the video went public; reactions took the online world by storm. Thousands vented their indignation on Twitter, with many hinting that the revelation is only a tip of the iceberg.
The Foursquare Gospel Church issued a swift denunciation thereafter, asking Igbeneghu, said to be one of its pastors, to “step down from all ministerial assignments.”
HURIWA said there was the need to put in place sustainable regime of legal frameworks to confront the hydra-headed monster of sexual harassment of female students and admission seekers by lecturers. HURIWA has called on the Deputy Senate President to re-sponsor his bill against the menace.