The Prevention, Prohibition, And Redressal of Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Educational Institutions Bill, 2019 sponsored by the Deputy President of the Senate, His Excellency, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege representing Delta Central Senatorial District today passed through first reading in the senate. The Bill which is co-sponsored by 106 other senators specifically makes it’s a criminal offence for any educator in a university, polytechnic or any other tertiary educational institution to violate or exploit the student-lecturer fiduciary relationship for sexual pleasures. The Bill imposes stiff penalties on offenders in its overall objective of providing tighter statutory protection for students against sexual hostility and all forms of sexual harassment in tertiary schools.
The Bill provides a compulsory five-year jail term for lecturers who sexually harass students. When passed into law, vice-chancellors of universities, rectors of polytechnics and other chief executives of institutions of higher learning will go to jail for two years if they fail to act within a week on complaints of sexual harassment made by students. The Bill expressly allows sexually harassed students, their parents, or guardians to seek civil remedies in damages against sexual predator lecturers before or after their successful criminal prosecution by the State. The Bill also seeks protection from sexual harassment for prospective students seeking admissions into higher educational institutions, students of generally low mental capacity and physically challenged students.
The Bill also stipulates as offences solicitation of sex or sexual advances by lecturers which result in intimidation, hostile or offensive environment for students. It makes provision for “institutional disciplinary procedures” to be followed by any sexually harassed student to report or submit a formal sexual harassment complaint within a tertiary institution to the administrative head of the institution. Administrative heads of tertiary academic institutions are mandated under the bill to protect students who made sexual harassment complaints from any form of victimisation in their learning.
As a father, Senator Omo-Agege believes that students, regardless of age are incapable of giving voluntary consent to unwelcomed sexual advances or demands for sexual favours by lecturers in any student-lecturer fiduciary relationship. A lecturer occupies a position of huge public trust in a student-lecturer fiduciary relationship. That relationship is a delicate one. We know of students with strong characters who reject the demand for sexual favours and are punished by making them fail in exams that they ordinarily passed. That should never happen. Senator Omo-Agege believes strongly that as parents, legislators owe our children a solemn duty to pass very tough and clear laws to protect our children against sexual perverts masquerading as teachers.