From ABUBAKAR YUNUSA, ABUJA
Worried by the rising wave of sexual harassment and other gender-based violence against women, a Non-Governmental Organisation, Anti-Sexual Harassment Advocacy Cluster, has called on the National Board of Technical Education Board to establish Sexual Harassment Committee in all institutions of higher learning in Nigeria.
Leader of the cluster, Grace Yohanna made the appeal during an advocacy visit to the Executive Director of the Board on Wednesday in Kaduna.
She explained that a survey conducted in 19 tertiary institutions across four states in Nigeria by a consortium of civil society organizations, including the Centre for Awareness on Justice and Accountability (CAJA), led by Youth Alive Foundation (YAF), showed that lack of clear channels of reporting was one of the discouraging factors against reporting and addressing cases of sexual harassment.
“56 per cent of the respondents indicated that no clear and defined channels of reporting sexual harassment in their schools as students were not even aware of any law to protect them against sexual harassment on campus even as the absence of uniform law to address the menace in all the tertiary institutions made it a case for concern. He said that is why some institutions hide allegations of sexual harassment in order to protect their lecturer to the detriment of the female victims. According to her, the Sexual Harassment committee in the tertiary institutions would help in arresting the menace of sexual harassment.
” The membership of the Sexual Harassment Prohibition Committee shall consist of seven staff members of the institution, including a Chairman who shall not be less than the rank of a senior lecturer or a deputy director in the Federal Civil Service and a Secretary who shall not be less than the rank of a lecturer or an assistant deputy director in the service.
” The administrative head of an institution shall establish an Independent Sexual Harassment Prohibition Committee in consultation with the highest management body of the institution,” she noted. Also, two students, two non-academic staff members and two academic staff members of the institution which shall include at least three women or females would form part of the committee. “We therefore appeal to this honourable office to support the establishment of the Independent Sexual Harassment Prohibition Committee in the Polytechnics as soon as the President assents to its bill. She maintained that the Anti-Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Educational Institutions Bill was awaiting Presidential assent would go a long way in addressing the scourge of the menace in our tertiary institutions of learning.
“This Bill is enacted to promote and protect ethical standards in tertiary education, dependency, trust and respect for human dignity in tertiary educational institutions, by providing special protection to students against sexual harassment by educators in tertiary Institutions. Responding, the Executive Director of the National Board of Technical Education Board (NBTE), Idris Mohammed Bugaje, said the Board was working on the road map in addressing cases of sexual harassment in Institutions of higher learning.
The Explainer gathered that Centre for Awareness on Justice and Accountability (CAJA) Kano State, Youth Alive Foundation (YAF) Abuja, Village Debbo Care Initiative (VDCare) Kaduna State, Sefjamil Media and Development (SMD) Kano State, Joint Association of Persons with Disability (JONAPWD), Gombe State Chapter, Women`s Rights and Health Project (WRAHP) Lagos State, and Connected Development ((CODE), Akwa Ibom State are part of the consortium of the Civil Society Organizations working to contribute in addressing the prevalence of sexual harassment in tertiary institutions in Nigeria.