Nigerian lawmakers on Wednesday debated a critical bill – the sexual harassment bill – which prescribes 14 years jail term for lecturers who sexually harass students.
The bills, which scaled second reading on the floor of the Senate, were sponsored by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege and Senate Leader, Abdullahi Yahaya, respectively.
The proposed legislation titled, 'A Bill for an Act to Prevent, Prohibit and Redress Sexual Harassment of Students in Tertiary Educational Institutions and for other matters connected therewith 2019', has 27 clauses.
The bill proposes up to 14 years jail term, with a minimum of five years, without an option of fine for any educator who commits sexual offences in tertiary institutions.
The bill defines sexual offences as including sexual intercourse with a student or demands for sex from a student or a prospective student or intimidating or creating a hostile or offensive environment for the student by soliciting for sex or making sexual advances.
Other forms of sexual harassment identified in the bill are "grabbing, hugging, kissing, rubbing, stroking, touching, pinching the breasts or hair or lips or hips or buttocks or any other sensual part of the body of a student".
Also included are "sending by hand or courier or electronic or any other means naked or sexually explicit pictures or videos or sex-related objects to a student, and whistling or winking at a student or screaming, exclaiming, joking or making sexually complimentary or uncomplimentary remarks about a student’s physique or stalking a student".
Senator Omo-Agege, in his lead debate, said: “The most effective way to deal with the offence of sexual harassment in our tertiary institutions is to penalize the very impropriety of the act, with or without consent."
He, however, added, “An educator whose character is maligned is at liberty to sue for defamation under the law of defamation which is well-settled in our jurisprudence and needs no duplication in this bill."