By Godwin Amunde
National President, National Council of Women Societies (NCWS), Dr. Gloria Laraba Shoda has expressed delight at the passing of the Bill against sexual harassment in tertiary institutions, noting that the bill will help checkmate the incessant sexual harassment of female students.
Dr. Gloria Laraba Shoda stated this in a statement made available to newsmen on Saturday in Abuja.
She said: “This piece of legislation passed on Tuesday 7th July 2020, addresses an aspect of gender-based violence and we are particularly pleased that the 9th Senate, under the leadership of its President, Dr Ahmed Lawan, has prioritised it on the legislative agenda”
According to Dr. Shoda, the passage of the Bill will now stand as a preventive and protective mechanism for those trying to pursue their educational dreams, while stressing that it will put an end to the ‘Sex for Grades’ syndrome, and exploitation of female students once and for all.
Dr Shoda, while noting that the Bill addresses any acts of sexual violence and harassment and offers safe reporting mechanisms that will protect victims, added that the Bill has been long overdue but delayed due to some opposition to it from the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on the grounds that laws covering such acts are already existing and that the autonomy of universities will be under threat.
She said they were however pleased with the leadership of the Senate over the outcome of the long fought campaign.
“The Council is appreciative of the fact that Dr Lawan and his colleagues in the Senate were determined and resolute to push the Bill to its logical conclusion in the interest of all our children, especially daughters. This date in July 2020 will go down in Nigeria’s history,” she said.
The Bill which is officially known as A Bill for and Act to Make Provisions for the Prohibition of Sexual Harassment of Students in tertiary educational institutions and for matters concerned therewith 2019, has 25 clauses, and seeks to “ promote and protect ethical standards in tertiary” and stipulates a 14-year jail term for offenders.”
According to Dr Shoda, the law will also mean that Nigeria would be fulfilling part of its obligations undertaken through the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa, and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, amongst others.
She praised the efforts of all the stakeholders who, during the journey, were steadfast and did not give up on the hope on the campaign to ensure that Nigeria’s educational institutions remain as epitomes of high ethical standards amid a sacrosanct learning environment.