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…Seeks collaboration with HEIR, others on advocacy

By Luminous Jannamike, Abuja

The Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) says its policy of zero tolerance for workplace sexual harassment in the country is still in force, adding the spate of the menace is worrisome.

The Team Leader, Constituency Project Tracking Group at the Commission, Mr. Akibu Garba, said this at a stakeholders’ workshop on curbing the workplace sexual harassment in the country organized by HEIR Women Development with support from Ford Foundation.

The theme of the event is: ‘Career Barriers and Workplace Sexual Harassment Against Young Women in Nigeria’.

Garba noted that available statistics indicated that despite efforts by the authorities aimed at curbing the menace, sexual aggressors had become recalcitrant and sometimes engaged in the corrupt act.

He, however, stressed the need for victims to know their rights and how to seek justice, if the menace must be eradicated.

According to him, the ICPC Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, has signed a zero tolerance policy for any form of sexual harassment, with disciplinary actions clearly spelt out.

“The conversation about sexual harassment is apt, because we have so many investigations and recommendations on how to address the menace. We make new staff go through our handbook on sexual harassment, because it (the prevalence) is too much.

“We regard sexual harassment as corrupt practice but victims has to know their rights and how to seek justice, and that is why we would like to collaborate with HEIR Women Development in this advocacy to ensure that this crime is completely eradicated,” he said.

The Country Director, Amnesty International Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, stated that workplace sexual harassment was not peculiar to Nigeria, but maintained there was a need to create safe spaces for women and girls, especially at work in the country.

Ojigho further suggested that organisations amend their internal operations to accommodate anti-sexual harassment guidelines that can give voice to survivors without condoning the ugly trend.

Earlier, the Executive Director of HEIR Women Development, Añuli Aniebo Ola-Olaniyi, said harassing girls and young women at work made them unproductive and unable to contribute their quota to national development.

According to her, a research conducted in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) by the organisation on 1060 respondents; consisting of 1000 online survey and 60 in-depth interviews, and released to the public penultimate month indicated that 51% of women have been sexually harassed with 3 in 4 women raped at work and 13% of the respondents were women living with disabilities, while 78% respondents said bosses harass them sexually.

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