The Gender Mobile Initiative (GMI) has urged President Bola Tinubu to sign the sexual harassment prohibition bill into law.
During a news conference in Abuja commemorating the 16 days of activism, Omowunmi Ogunrotimi, the Lead Director of GMI, emphasized the significance of this act in combating sexual harassment.
The bill, initially introduced by Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege in 2016 and later reintroduced in 2023 with the support of Civil Society Organisations, criminalizes sexual harassment in tertiary educational institutions.
Ms. Ogunrotimi highlighted the bill’s objective of promoting and protecting educator-student relationships.
She underscored the alarming statistic that 70% of female graduates from Nigerian tertiary institutions have experienced some form of sexual harassment.
According to her, these figures aren’t mere statistics but represent the real-life experiences of countless young women whose educational journeys have been marred by harassment.
Emphasizing the importance of safeguarding the fundamental right to education, Ogunrotimi stated that addressing sexual harassment in tertiary institutions is not only a moral imperative but a national emergency requiring swift action.
Dr. Gloria Ibikunle, the acting Director of the Centre for Gender Security Studies at the University of Abuja, likened sexual harassment to a cancer that needs to be eradicated.
She stressed the need for institutions to guard against sexual predators tarnishing the image of tertiary education.
Furthermore, Helen Akinyemi, the Programme Manager for Gender and Justice at Oxfam Nigeria, emphasized the importance of signing the bill into law for the total eradication of sexual harassment in tertiary institutions.
The bill, having been passed by both chambers of the National Assembly and transmitted for presidential assent, awaits the prompt action of President Bola Tinubu.
As the 16 days of activism are commemorated, advocates express hope that immediate action will be taken to ensure a safe and supportive learning environment, free from the pervasive issue of sexual harassment.