In a bid to ensure and sustain a campus that is free from all forms of Sexual Harassment, the Federal University Ndufu-Alike Ikwo (FUNAI), Ebonyi State, recently held a sensitization workshop on sexual harassment for staff and students. The workshop was organized by the University Committee on Sexual harassment.
The Committee is one of the first Committees the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Chinedum Nwajiuba constituted on assumption of office, underscoring his goal of running a university devoid of sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment has been described as one of the worst cankerworms bedeviling the Nigerian education system, with serious consequences on the victims, culprits and image of affected institutions.
This informed the enactment of the Sexual Harassment Act of 2016 by the federal government with dire consequences on anyone found guilty of the offence. In fact, the Act stipulates a 5-year jail term for offenders and a 2-year imprisonment for Vice-chancellors and Heads of other tertiary and sundry institutions that fail to act after 2 weeks of receiving a harassment complaint.
Welcoming the participants to the event, the Chair of University Committee on Sexual Harassment, Dr. Ngozi Nwudu noted that the sensitization programme was initiated to move the wheels of sanity in the University. She maintained that the event was to create awareness on the evils of sexual harassment, adding that it has become a menace in institutions of higher learning in Nigeria.
She therefore urged staff of the University to serve as parents-in-loco to the students that were entrusted into their care instead of taking undue advantage of them. She also cautioned the students against exhibiting actions that could predispose them to any form of sexual harassment on campus.
“…Do not intimidate the students and do not lure them into sexual immorality by virtue of your position as a lecturer. Do not sexually harass any student in exchange for scores or threat of failure”, she stated.
Earlier, the Chairman of the occasion and the Director of Academic Planning, Professor Dr. Jonny Ogunji stated that the sensitization program was informed by the need to get the new students of the university acquainted with their new environment, and giving them the opportunity to arm themselves with useful information that could help them resist any form of sexual harassment on campus.
He noted that FUNAI was aspiring to be a world-class university; therefore, sexual harassment is not tolerated in the institution at all.
Hear him: “Sexual harassment is against our laws, and students have the right to have education that is free from sexual harassment.”
He also cautioned the students against indecent dressing, prostitution, drug abuse, and other vices that could derail their goal of studying at the university and graduating at record time. He equally enjoined the staff to treat the students with respect and without exploitation, as anyone caught harassing students sexually would be made to face the full weight of the law.
Thought-provoking lectures were presented by some resources persons, all highlighting the dangers inherent in sexual harassment and the need to have a campus free from such menace. Dr. Nneka Onwumere of the University Medical Centre spoke on: “Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Institutions: Myth or Reality”; Dr.Kelechi Johnmary Ani of the department of History and Strategic Studies/Philosophy delivered a paper on “Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Institutions: Implications for Academic Performance”, while Dr. John Otu of the department of Languages/Linguistics/Literary Studies spoke on ‘Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Institutions: Implications for Teacher – Staff Relationship and Self-Esteem.