Reps’ urged on speedy passage of sexual harassment prevention bill

Director-General of the National Centre for Women Development (NCWD), Mary Ekpere-Eta  ESQ, has called on the House of Representatives to immediately pass the sexual harassment prevention bill to enable President Muhammadu Buhari sign it into law in the nearest future.
Ekpere-Eta made the call in a statement she signed 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 struggled 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 some of whom 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 stressed.

According to the statement, passage of the bill to criminalize 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 dehumanizing 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 Muhammadu Buhari to sign it into law in the nearest future,” it stressed.

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.

The DG again urged that the Police Trust Fund as established by a legislation of the 8th Assembly, be used to equip the Nigerian police with modern facilities and train it’s personnel to scientifically investigate and prosecute rape and sexual assault.

“I believe that at with the planned public hearing, issues around  will again be discussed with the goal of developing legislative instruments to curb the spike in sexual assault.”

The bill against sexual harassment in tertiary institutions passed by the Senate last Tuesday, prohibits the offense of sexual harassment of students in tertiary institutions and criminalizes the act of neglect or failure of administrative heads of tertiary educational institutions to address complaints of sexual harassment within a specified period of time.

It stipulates that any person who commits the offences of sexual harassment of students listed under the Bill shall in conviction be sentenced to imprisonment for 14 years or to a fine of five million Naira or both.

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