Sexual harassment victims not responsible for abuse — Osinbajo

The notion that victims or potential victims of sexual harassment are architects of their fate especially by their attitude, dressing or willingness to be in a compromising place with their violators is wrong and should be resisted in every situation. The victim must always be seen as the victim and not to be blamed. This was the view of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) in his contributions on Wednesday at a webinar on Anti-Sexual Harassment, themed: “Finding Safe Spaces for Female Students in Nigerian Universities,” organized by the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife. The event was based on the book authored by notable journalist and former presidential spokesman, Olusegun Adeniyi, titled: “NAKED ABUSE: SEX FOR GRADES IN AFRICAN UNIVERSITIES.” According to Osinbajo: “The victim must always be seen as the victim. “There cannot be an excuse, especially given the power configuration between students and lecturers, that the victim could have somehow invited the abuse upon themselves. “I think it is an important consideration to be made and we must not allow that notion to persist.” Advocating stricter punishments for rape offenders, especially in situations involving lecturers and their female students, Prof. Osinbajo said: “There cannot be an excuse especially given the power configuration between students and lecturers that the victim could have somehow invited the abuse upon themselves.

“I think it is an important consideration to be made and we must not allow that notion to persist. “There is also the comparison sometimes made between demanding bribes for service and sex for grades. “Sometimes people will argue that a bribe is a bribe and there is no reason why the punishment for sex as the currency of the bribe should be stricter than an ordinary bribe.” Referring to Adeniyi’s book, Osinbajo said developing and adhering to a set of ethical codes of conduct for conversations and interactions involving lecturers and students in universities would greatly address the problem. He said: “To ensure that both faculty and students are sufficiently clear about the issues and rules, there is a need for a code of conduct or ethical guidelines based on best practices in appropriate student/lecturer interactions. “It is important that these are clearly defined in ethical guidelines that are contained in some documents that people can refer to and see. “It is important both for the lecturer and the student that there is some reference to some code of conduct.” Speaking further on ways of resolving issues around sexual harassment in Nigerian universities, Prof. Osinbajo said the search for answers to creating safe spaces for female students in universities must begin from the question of: “Why is it that such an evidently rampant crime is so under-reported?” According to him: “There are obviously many cases of people who share their anecdotal experiences without necessarily reporting to the authorities.

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