The National Council of Women Societies on Saturday commended the Nigerian Senate on the passage of the sexual harassment bill.
Laraba Shoda, National President of NCWS, gave the commendation in a statement in Abuja, saying the passage of the bill was a step in the right direction to curtail sexual harassment in Nigeria tertiary institutions.
The bill is titled: “A Bill for an Act to make Provisions for Prohibition of Sexual Harassment of Students in Tertiary Educational Institutions and for Matters Concerned Therewith, 2019.”
The bill was first originated in the eight’ assembly and was re-introduce by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, and 106 other senators.
It is to help check the incessant sexual harassment of female students from the hands of those engaged to tutor and mentor them.
The bill was passed on Tuesday after due consideration of the report of the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, which was in charge of reviewing the bill and organising a public hearing on the legislation.
According to Shoda: “This piece of legislation passed will address an aspect of gender-based violence and we are particularly pleased that the ninth Senate, under the leadership of its President, Dr. Ahmed Lawan, has prioritised it on the legislative agenda.
“The bill passed will now stand as a preventive and protective mechanism for those trying to pursue their educational dreams.
‘’It puts an end to ‘Sex for Grade’ culture and exploitation of our female students once and for all.”
Shoda said the bill also addressed any act of sexual violence and harassment as well as offered a safe reporting mechanism that would protect the victims.
She said: “This bill has been a long time coming and there was some opposition to it from the Academic Staff Union of Universities on the grounds that laws covering it already existed and the autonomy of universities would be under threat.
“Nonetheless, we are, however, pleased with the outcome of our well fought campaign.
“The council is appreciative of the fact that Lawan and his colleagues in the Senate were determined and resolute to push the bill to its conclusion.
“The president noted that the bill has 25 clauses, adding that it seeks to promote and protect ethical standards in tertiary institutions and stipulates a 14-year jail term for offenders.
“This bill will also mean that Nigeria will be fulfilling part if its obligations undertaken through the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.”
She added that it was fulfilling “the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Protocol to the African Charter on the Right of Women in Africa and the Rights and Welfare of the Child among others”.
Shoda praised the efforts of all the stakeholders, who, during the journey, were steadfast and did not give up on the hope and campaigns to ensure that Nigeria’s educational institutions remained as epitome of high ethical standards and sacrosanct learning environment.