A bill has come before the Nigerian Senate seeking to criminalise sexual relations between lecturers in tertiary institutions.
Sponsored by Ovie Omo – Agege and co – sponsored by 46 other senators, the bill, which passed its first reading on Wednesday, will ban any kind of sexual dealings between lecturers and their students and provides for a maximum of five years jail term for offenders.
In essence, according to Omo – Agege, the new law seeks to protect students, especially females, from being sexually harassed by their lecturers.
““When passed into law, it makes it a criminal offence for any educator in a university, polytechnic or any other tertiary educational institution to violate or exploit the student-lecturer fiduciary relationship for sexual pleasures,” the legislator said.
“The bill imposes stiff penalties on offenders in its overall objective of providing tighter statutory protection for students against sexual hostility and all forms of sexual harassment in tertiary schools.
He stated further that the bill also provides the victim with options to seek redress, even after criminal prosecution by the state.
“The bill expressly allows sexually harassed students, their parents or guardians to seek civil remedies in damages against sexual predator lecturers before or after their successful criminal prosecution by the State.
“The bill also seeks to protect, from sexual harassment, prospective students seeking admissions into institutions of learning, students of generally low mental capacity and physically challenged students,’’ he stated.
The bill has since it passed its first reading generated a lot of controversy with many Nigerians observing that sexual relations between two consenting adults cannot be banned as it infringes on their constitutionally guaranteed freedom of association.
But consent among lecturer and student does not excuse any kind of sexual relationship between them under the law as it seeks to completely prohibit any kind of sexual affair between the two.
The only exemption is if the lecturer and student were married before being admitted into the institution.
Parts of the bill read thus:
“An educator shall be guilty of committing an offence of sexual harassment against a student if he/she has sexual intercourse with a student.
“He or she shall be guilty if he has sexual intercourse with a student or demands for sex from a student or a prospective student as a condition to study in an institution.
“He or she shall be guilty if he has sexual intercourse with a student or demands for sex from a student or a prospective student as a condition to the giving of a passing grade.
“He or she shall be guilty if he solicits sex from or makes sexual advances at a student when the sexual solicitation or sexual advances result in an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for the student.
“He or she shall be guilty if he directs or induces another person to commit any act of sexual harassment under this Act, or cooperates in the commission of sexual harassment by another person.
“He or she shall be guilty if he grabs, hugs, rubs or strokes or touches or pinches the breasts or hair or lips or hips or buttocks or any other sensual part of the body of a student.
“He or she shall be guilty if he displays, gives or sends by hand or courier or electronic or any other means naked or sexually explicit pictures or videos or sex related objects to a student.
“He or she shall be guilty if he whistles or winks at a student or screams or exclaims or jokes or makes sexually complimentary or uncomplimentary remarks about a student’s physique,” he said.