Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored – Aldous Huxley,
By Derenle Animasaun
Unless you have been under a rock on the dark side of the moon, you could not have missed the recent exposé by the BBC: Sex for grades. If this was shocking for some, it definitely was not for millions of Nigerians.
It is a known secret, actually, it is a blatant fact. Lecturers would publicly show off their current conquests every academic year. I am sure they thought that their spoils(victims) was a perk of their jobs. It is disgraceful and immoral. It saddens me deeply, actually it angers me that they have the gall to parade publicly their spoils.
We know or have experienced lecturers who have abused their positions by either bullying students, harassing or sexually abusing students blatantly or publicly unabated without consequences. They do this knowing full well that there is no come back . Like every abuser that go for young girls who come from poor families and vulnerable students who have no one to speak for them or protect them. They have no none to come to their aid and they are more likely to suffer the abuse alone and in silence.
It may appear that this exposé came out of the blue, we know it did not. It probably was more an embarrassment to some Nigerians that the world know what goes on in our institutions. To be honest it is a relief that the world and its cousins know.They showed the truth.
We owe a debt of gratitude to the BBC Africa Eye and its undercover journalists who posed as students inside the University of Lagos and the University of Ghana. Watching it,was uncomfortable but necessary. We saw for ourselves how these low life predators operated in their natural habitats.
This is not a sensationalist piece of media, this was not a sting, this was no entrapment, this was a situation of their own making. One of them even joked about where they usually take their prey at the University of Lagos, called the cold room. So that alone speaks volumes.
Reporter Kiki Mordi gave us first-hand insight on how soul destroying sexual harassment can be on their victims.
Of course, we know it went on, we have always known it went on and we know it went on a national level.
So much so that it must have been so concerning that in 2016, The Senate passed the Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Education Institution Bill, which provides for a five-year jail term for a lecturer convicted for sexually harassing male or female students. It does not go far enough. Teachers or lecturers should not be sexually assaulting their students.It goes without saying. Any civil society should expect that as a no- no. Then, Nigeria it seem is no such society. We have to repudiate such crimes and anywhere it is witnessed there has to be rules and regulations where cases like that can be addressed without fear of retribution.
One can now hope that this bill is robust enough to be extended across the primary, secondary and not tertiary level alone..
It has been going on for decades. It permeates our every institutions;from primary to secondary to our tertiary institutions. The abuse is unrelenting, one victim if unlucky may fall prey,every single step through her educational journey. Imagine how traumatized and emotionally damaged it leaves the victim. Post traumatic stress goes deeper that it affects how that person functions in life.
Sexual abuse is nothing new and there, sadly, lies the rub. It is the given, alas, it is the norm. We have a serious problem here and it will take a national programme to begin to heal such trauma.
So pardon me, if I have no patience for these scums and for those, who feign surprise and outrage,just stop your charade, you protest too much. It is either you are part of the problem or part of the solution.
The fact are these; Nigeria is riddled with sex offenders and rapists. There I said it. And if the cap fits. I owe none any apologies if they feel over sensitive .
How can we explain that far too many Nigerians have experienced sexual assaults by their male teachers/lecturers. They prey on the young and to be frank, saying it is sex for grades, minimises the impact of the crime, it negates the assaults. Besides, it sounds transactional; it definitely is not. The abuser holds the power, he can fail or pass as he pleases.
I was also informed that, they sometimes fail male students whom they feel is friendly towards their prey or they are threatened by their youth. They collect money for handouts or lecture notes. These miscreants lack any ounce of decency. For generations, millions of Nigerians have been sexually abused. Parents know this goes on and yet they send their children off to school or university. The cycle of abuse goes on and on. It is time to break that cycle for good. All decent teachers and lecturers in Nigeria should speak out. They should not allow these sexual offenders get away with their crimes.
Their sexual assault affects everyone or we at least know know of someone who has been sexually abused by teachers and lecturers.
Sexual abuse is rampant in Nigeria and are mainly perpetrated by males in position of power.
No wonder Nigerians are emotionally conflicted and for those who have the temerity to mansplain this heinous crimes; please don’t. No,the young girls did not tempt you to sexually abuse them, not by the way they dress or by the way they look.
If men can not control their primal impulses to harangue the gullible and impressionable. It simply would not wash. The dog whistle and distraction should not be allowed to wash or wished away,this level of abuse by people who are placed in a position of trust. Like my mother would say,gone are the days. With the emergence of the Me Too movement, social media and the media savvy youngsters. As we speak, our young people have found their voices and courage and they are already adding names to the two featured on the BBC programme and long may it continue.
For the sex offenders (yes, that’s what they are) they will be smoked out, out of their shadows. The best justice is that they follow due process and justice will prevail.
It is important to stand back and reflect on this pragmatically, the Ghanaian sex offender lecturers will be dealt with by Ghana so let us concentrate on the mess in our midst.
Prior to the exposure, we know how deep the level of sexual assaults go and no one blames the teachers, the finger of blame is often rested on the victim. She is often ostracised and her schooling halted and also any chance of a future.
She gets a reputation of being easy and is tagged for most her youth until she’s finally consigned to obscurity.
I hear that the Nigerian media had never converted this level of abuse, I beg to differ. Such stories from the media are often not read by the masses. Nigerians, it seems prefer titillation and scandals. Stuff that talks about the ‘other’and it is easy to read, harmless enough to create an emotion that does not cause a ripple in the psyche of the reader. These false equivalence conveniently removes them from empathy and agency.
Some say what is the way forward? We need to change this narrative, check our morals and embrace our collective responsibility.
For those who have been abused? You have nothing to ashamed off. Please get help, speak to someone who you can trust and would not judge you. Lastly, for those who continue to abuse students, you will be found out and I hope that you receive the full weight of the law.
I am happy to recieve comments or if anyone is affected by the content of this piece, I will be happy to signpost you to appropriate agencies.