By Henry Umoru, Abuja
A bill seeking to stop sexual abuse of female students in the nation’s tertiary institutions was yesterday reintroduced in the Senate for consideration and subsequent passage.
The bill, christened: ” Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Education Institution Prohibition Bill, 2019, sponsored by Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo -Agege, APC, Delta Central, was read the first time yesterday in the Senate at plenary.
Recall that the bill was sponsored during the 8th Senate by Senator Ovie Omo- Agege. Also, recall that six months after it was introduced on the floor of the Senate, the bill that sought to among others, stop sexual abuse of female students in the nation’s tertiary institutions was passed Thursday, October, 27th, 2016 by the Red Chamber
When it was passed, a 5-year jail term was prescribed for lecturers and educators convicted of sexual harassment of their male or female students. When the Senate passed it, it, however, suffered a major set back in the House of Representatives as it was not harmonized for subsequent assent.
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The bill also recommended expulsion or suspension for students whose claims of being serially abused by lecturers or educators are found to be false by any competent court. In the alternative, the bill also proposed a fine of N5 million in the event that the accused person is convicted by a competent court of law even as it made provisions for lecturers and educators who maybe falsely accused by their students to seek redress.
In such instances, an accused lecturer or educator who is acquitted by a court can turn the heat on the student who shall be expelled or suspended, as the institution where both belong deems fit. The Bill also recommends expulsion or suspension for students whose claims of being serially abused by lecturers or educators are found to be false by any a competent court.
The bill, however, proposed a fine of N5 million after the accused person has been convicted by a competent court of law. “In the event that the lecturer is falsely accused by his student, the bill provides that he may seek redress – after the lecturer has been acquitted by a court, he can turn the heat on the student who shall be expelled or suspended at the discretion of the institution.
“An educator shall be guilty of committing an offence of sexual harassment against a student, if he or she has sexual intercourse with a student who is less than 18 years of age, an imbecile or of generally low mental capacity or blind or deaf or otherwise physically challenged,” the bill states.
It also categorises it as an offence when such a person “has sexual intercourse with a student or demands for sex from a student or a prospective student as a condition to giving a grade or the granting of honours and scholarships, or the payment of stipend, allowance or other benefits, privileges or considerations.
The bill further states: “An educator shall be guilty of committing an offence of sexual harassment against a student if he or she solicits sex from or makes sexual advances towards a student when the sexual solicitation or sexual advances result in an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for the student.
“Or directs or induces another person to commit any act of sexual harassment under this bill, or cooperates in the commission of sexual harassment by another person without which it would not have been committed; grabs or hugs or rubs or strokes or touches or pinches the breasts or hair or lips or buttocks or any other sensual parts of the body of a student.
“Or displays, gives or sends by hand or courier or electronic (means) or any other means, naked or sexually explicit pictures or videos or sex-related objects to a student.
“Or whistles or winks at a student or scream or exclaims or jokes or makes sexually complimentary or uncomplimentary remarks about a student’s physique.”