By Gabriel Chy Alonta
The Founder of Women Action Collective (WACOL), Professor Joy Ezeilo says that independent research by the group shows that one out of every three female students of tertiary institutions was sexually harassed by the opposite sex.
Ezeilo disclosed this at a symposium with the theme: ‘Sexual harassment in tertiary institutions: Time for action is now’, organised by UNN Gender and Development Centre in collaboration with Women’s Aid Collective (WACOL).
Ezeilo, who is also the Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Enugu campus, regretted that victims were not always ready to speak out because of the fear of victimization and/or stigmatization.
“The law, religion, tradition and morality are against sexual harassment, but, unfortunately, this has become a canker-worm in our tertiary institutions,” she said.
Ezeilo, therefore, challenged administrators of tertiary institutions to spearhead the fight against all vices in educational system particularly cultism, sorting and sexual harassment.
“Sexual harassment have devastating effect on learning and the capacity of persons graduating from tertiary institutions in the country.
“We must seek for effective ways to curb this menace and restore the dignity of men and women and build a conducive learning environment, where academic discipline and freedom reigns supreme,” the renowned law professor said.
In an address, Prof. Charles Igwe, the Vice-Chancellor of UNN, warned lecturers of the university to avoid sexual harassment of their students or be prepared to face serious sanctions.
Igwe said his administration had zero tolerance for sexual harassment and would not hesitate to sanction any lecturer found guilty after thorough investigations.
“Under my watch in UNN as vice-chancellor, the institution will maintain and respect the motto of the university, which is to ‘Restore the Dignity of Man’”.
The vice-chancellor commended the organisers of the programme, saying that ‘it came at a period sex-for-marks in tertiary institutions had become a national discourse’.
Igwe, represented by Prof. Pat Okpoko, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration), also advised female students to avoid indecent dressing, with the intention to lure lecturers with low moral standard.
He said: “UNN has beamed its searchlight on both staff and students that will be involved in sexual harassment.
“Female students should dress well to avoid sexual harassment as provocative dressing most times leads to sexual harassment.
“The reason why your parents sent you to school is to read so as to graduate with good results and not to seduce men with indecent dressing.”
Earlier, Prof. Anthonia Achike, Director, Gender and Development Centre, UNN, expressed concern over the rising cases of sex-for-marks in tertiary institutions in the country.
Achike commended the National Assembly for its move to enact legislation against sexual harassment in tertiary institutions and society at large.
“It’s unfortunate that some victims have refused to report cases of sexual harassment for fear of losing their jobs as well as the public stigma it will bring to their image.
“When we talk of sexual harassment, it is not only men harassing female students but sometimes female lecturers also sexually harass male students.
“To tackle this societal menace that has become a serious hindrance and setback to academic excellence, all hands must be on deck,” Achike added.
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