Nigeria’s Sexual Harassment Bill and The Power To Speak Up (by Adebisi Adewusi)

I was elated when the sexual harassment bill passed the second reading at the Nigerian Senate. Finally we could seat at our desks and not worry about being preyed on.

But wait a moment how are we sure young women will speak up? In a highly dangerously patriarchal society as ours, where people are quick to lay the blame on women, how do we ensure young women take advantage of this bill when it becomes law?

Here’s a situation. A female student has sexual relations with her lecturer after being threatened she would fail a course. A year later he asks for sexual favors again and she says no. This time the law is available to protect her.

Now she could go to the law but she’s scared her name will be dragged in the mud and people won’t see her as being innocent since she fell before.

How do we encourage young women to come forward when being harassed in our society?

How do we ensure they do not get victimized by other members of staff because they spoke up?

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I strongly believe parents have a role to play in ensuring young girls take advantage of the sexual harassment law when passed into law. Parents and guardians need to teach young women to be strong, confident and to speak up.

They need to understand it is a breach of trust for a lecturer to sexually harass them and he or she has no right to do that.

In addition, higher institutions should be vigilant. Vigilant in the sense that ensure young women who have come forward are not victimized by other lecturers. This can be done by ensuring scripts reviewed in order to ensure they are correctly graded.

If this means setting up a department solely for monitoring the grades of these young women let it be done.

I look forward to the passing of this bill into law as it would not only prevent young women from undeserved trauma but also make learning much more comfortable.

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I am Adebisi Adewusi, speech writer, political scientist and photographer. I believe women are constantly being seen as “women” when we are much more than that. I am committed to ensuring women know they can and should seat at the table.

Follow me on twitter @thefemaleorator

Thefemaleorator.wordpress.com

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