Director-General of the National Centre for Women Development (NCWD), Mary Ekpere-Eta has called on the House of Representatives to immediately pass the sexual harassment prevention bill to enable President Muhammadu Buhari sign it into law.
Ekpere-Eta made the call in a statement weekend in Abuja, expressing deep concerns on the challenges women and girls face in their quest for education in the country.
The statement noted the increase in female school dropouts for fear of being raped, regretting that girls who suffer inequalities such as early marriage, hawking wares to augment their family’s income and who still struggle to get to the higher institutions have to contend with lecturers who harass them for sex , as a condition for passing their exams.
“It is gratifying that after women surmount the above challenges to make it into tertiary institutions, have to contend with lecturers who harass them for sex , as a condition for passing their exams,” the statement said.
She stated that passage of the bill to criminalise sexual harassment of female students in tertiary institutions in Nigeria by the Senate stands as a poignant moment in the push for women empowerment.
“I joined other critical stakeholders at the public hearing on this important law. I am glad that our voices were heard, as we fully supported the bill which will act a legal frame work for protecting female students from unprofessional lecturers who practice and promote the dehumanising culture of sex-for-grades.
“I commend the Senate and the sponsor of the bill, the Deputy President of the Senate, Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege for spearheading this pivotal bill. I call on the House of Representatives to pass the bill on time, in order for President Buhari to sign it into law in the nearest future,” it stated.
The statement further lauded the National Assembly on its plan to host a public hearing on Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV), saying this will serve as call for states which were yet to domesticate other laws that protect women and girls such as the Childs Right Act (CRA) and the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act.