By Kemi Abioye
Stakeholders in the maritime industry had raised concern over the harassment of female seafarers, a situation which is causing lack of interest, insecurity and reduction of females in seafaring activities.
This was made known in Lagos during Women’s International Trading Association, WITA, Nigeria’s annual anniversary with the theme, “Sustainable opportunities for seafarers in Nigeria”, held in Lagos last week.
Speaking on the issue, Mrs. Folashade Aluko, of the Nigerian Export-Import Bank, NEXIM said, there was a lady seafarer who applied for job and did very well after the interview but an official of the company refused to give her the job insisting that the lady spent a weekend with him first.
She said the lady did not get the job because she refused the advances of the official.
In her words: “There was this lady seafarer very qualified and had the needed experience she went for an interview. This lady did extremely well in the interview but the boss insisted he must have his way with her before she would be offered the job but this lady declined. It happened often and often. She remained focus until she luckily found her way in the industry without involving herself into such act,” she said.
Other speakers on the issue stressed the needed to encourage more females to take seafaring as a profession but warned that such persons must be determined and focused if they must be successful.
In his keynote address, Assistant Director in charge of Maritime Service at the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Mr. Amos Kuje, said determination and desire to better their lot drives most ladies into seafaring and made comparism of reasons for females joining the profession in different countries.
Kuja said that what drove majority of Chinese women into seafaring were wages, competition, attitude and passion. Other reasons are to make friends and personal interest that only one woman said she just had passion for seafaring despite the challenges of sexual abuse, harassment, molestation and insecurity.
Mrs Irene Macfoy, an official of NIMASA, and head of the agency’s National Seafarers Development Programme, NSDP, also added that when she went to Arab Academy in Egypt with Nigerian cadets alongside Otunba Kunle Folarin, Chairman of Nigeria Seafarers Welfare Board, NSWB, to get a place for the cadets there, she noted that there was discrimination against the to-be female cadets.
She stated: “When we went to Arab Academy with our cadets, the female cadets were rejected until we decided that if they do not want the female then the male will also not go along with them. They had no choice than to accept both male and female. Then at the end of the year, the female students happened to be among the first class students.”