By Josephine Agbonkhese
From demanding monetary favours for good grades to pestering female students for sexual favours, educational institutions in the country have been reduced to dens of sexual predators, becoming increasingly dangerous for the development of girls.
Although major legislation, the Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Education Institution Bill, had been passed in 2016, it has not served as a deterrent to erring lecturers. This is however largely due to the failure of victims to speak out.
While Nigerians were getting over the Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, Ile-Ife, professor saga, BBC investigative report has set the country alight with a gut-wrenching 13-minute 44-second video of sex-for-grades shenanigans in the University of Lagos, UNILAG. The full documentary is still expected.
Vanguard women Own spoke to a psychologist and a counsellor, who suggested ways by students, can avoid falling victim to lecherous lecturers.
Foremost guidance and counselling expert, Prof(Mrs) Mopelola Omoegun, a lecturer at the University of Lagos, UNILAG, where she was formerly Dean, Faculty of Education, believes it takes two to tango and that any disciplined female student who is willing, can avoid falling victim to randy lecturers.
Prof Omoegun said: “First and foremost, female students should be up and doing in their studies. They should resist the temptation of asking for favours because lecturers with poor self-control see this as an opportunity.
“The manner in which a student dresses is also important. If you do not make yourself vulnerable, it’s going to be difficult for you to become a victim.”
Visiting lecturers’ office alone
Having imbibed the earlier mentioned tips, according to Omoegun, students should also be mindful of certain signals which could spell danger.
She cautioned: “If you want to submit assignments and a lecturer asks you to bring it to his office personally, that is a signal. Class representatives can collate and submit assignments. Preferably, the lecturer should collect assignments right in the classroom. This also means the student should get her assignment ready at the right time. If a lecturer, however, requires a female student to personally submit her assignment or demands to see her, then she should do so in the company of a friend.”
Drawing attention to self
Omoegun also noted that certain behaviours too that could draw the attention of lecturers to some female students and cause them to demand illicit affairs include lousiness in class, especially in their relation to fellow classmates; coming late into the lecturer room, as well as dressing ostentatiously.
Say NO, put feet down
While the above could reduce the chances of becoming prey, there is no denying the fact that desperately lecherous lecturers might still find their targets.
In such circumstances, a psychologist, Dr Raphael James, Founder, Centre for Research, Information Management and Media Development, CRIMMD, who recalled that his female friend on campus was a victim of the ordeal at the Ondo State University, Ado-Ekiti, said girls must be taught to say ‘No’ and put their feet down.
To this, Prof Omoegun added, emphasising that girls must also ensure they have on ground concrete evidence with which to make a case about the lecturer’s demand for the law to prevail. She, however, regretted that a lot of students still embrace the culture of silence while lecturers frustrate them endlessly, adding that even the Sexual Harassment Policy provided by the University of Lagos, had been under-utilised by students.
On the culture of silence, Dr James reiterated that many students who had been sexually corrupted by randy lecturers wouldn’t have ended up sleeping with those lecturers if they had spoken out.
He said: “This fear, I feel, is as a result of the general belief that once you reveal a lecturer in the negative light, even if he can no longer victimise you, he will connive with a fellow lecturer who will victimise and frustrate your academic efforts. This is what has made many girls give in. But my advice remains the same: female students in such situations should say ‘NO’ consistently.
“But if a lecturer insists, they should get organised, gather evidence and present ‘copies’ to the school authority. If nothing is done, then they should circulate them on social media for higher authorities and even the mainstream media to take up.”
Also read: Counsel to victim in Prof Akindele’s case: Espirit de corps among lecturers fuels sexual harassment
Role of parents
Prof Omoegun said parents also have an important role to play in helping their daughters tackle sexual harassment at every point in their lives—whether at school or in the workplace.
“I tell parents, they must empower their children, especially their girls. Teach them to know their rights and to also stand up for those rights. They must learn to say ‘NO’ when faced with certain challenges, and also be consistent. That is what we call assertiveness in guidance and counselling. You can also scream and run away if the need arises.
“The responsibility to train female students to be assertive also rests on primary and secondary school teachers; they should teach and encourage girls to be very assertive because that is the foundation of empowerment. Men who cannot control their sexual desires are all over and this is, in fact, a psychological problem. So, girls too should be trained to put their feet down and say ‘NO’ to sexual assault.
“This phenomenon has a multiplier effect on the psychology of girls—a result whose consequences the society thereafter suffers. I know of a lady who dropped out of school in her second year because a particular lecturer kept making passes at her and frustrating her. This girl was very intelligent but because she insisted she will never sleep with him, and he vowed to deal with her, she had to leave school. You could imagine her trauma.
“Also, based on my experience in the university, there were female students who, for fear of being noticed by lecturers, would refuse to answer questions in class. Most of them also sat the back. Some of these lectures sometimes still get to notice some of these girls.
In the first instance, I think many of these men have no business being educators. Hence, they feel one of the benefits of being a lecturer is unhindered access to girls. This is a terrible habit we really have to put an end to if grades on certificates received from our schools must be regarded.”
It must be noted that these interviews predate the BBC expose.
Women radio applauds Abiodun on 35percent
Women Radio 91.7 has commended Governor Dapo Abiodun for passing the resolution of 35percent women and 10percent youth participation for Ogun State political office appointments.
According to Toun Okewale Sonaiya, CEO Women Radio 91.7 “This is welcoming news for inclusion and fair gender balancing in Ogun state governance. This is a clear positive message that the state government and its leadership understand good governance through representation and that women matter”
“Governor Abiodun and the state party leadership have shown by this action that Ogun is a progressive state and we are happy with this.
“We are confident and urge the Abiodun led the government to appoint 35percent women as commissioners, 35percent women as chair of parastatals and 35percent female members.
“Ogun state like its neighbouring partner Lagos state has shown a genuine political will that is deliberately and intentionally inclusive and this is worthy of commendation.
“A new dawn has arisen in Nigeria, with inclusiveness togetherness we progress. We urge other governors and party leaderships who are yet to appoint to show their patriotism and emulate this progressive trend”, she added.
Women Radio 91.7 is Nigeria’s only radio station for women and their families.