Panelists want stringent laws against rape, sexual harassment

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Rapists to be hanged?
Rapists to be hanged?

By Isaac Aregbesola

Panelists on ending sexual harassment in educational institutions have called for stringent measures and enforcement of various laws, against rape and sexual harassment to stop the menace.

The discussants made the call on Wednesday after a film screening of a documentary on “The Hunting Ground” organised by the U.S. Embassy in Abuja.

“The Hunting Ground” examines the issue of sexual assault in U.S. universities, the role of the institutions, and the effect on victims and their families.

The documentary was to create awareness and find solutions to ending sexual harassment in educational institutions in Nigeria.

It aimed at inspiring new laws and changes in campus policy.

One of the panelists, Dorothy Njemane, a right activist and Chief Executive Officer DorothyNjemane Foundation said sexual harassment and rape thrived because of lack of enforcement of relevant laws and sanctions against the crime.

Njemane, who said she was a victim of rape and sexual harassment, stressed that the perpetrator of the crime most often went scot free because of weak legal structure in the country and inability of security agents to enforce the law.

She said that victims of rape and sexual harassment usually did not get justice because many a time they found it difficult to speak out because of stigmatisation.

The right activist said it was time victims made noise about the crime, urging them not give in to factors such as religious belief, cultural and societal influence that aid the perpetrator to escape the wrath of law.

“Rape hurts, sexual harassment demoralises, hence there is no justification for hurting or making excuse for evil of others.

“Our laws are problematic and until law continues to take its course, we are going nowhere,” she said.

Another panellist, Dr Ganiyat Adeshina, the Dean of Social Sciences and Head of Department National Open University Abuja, said that there was no concrete policy against sexual harassment in Nigerian institutions of learning.

“There is needed to take holistic approach against this menace in our higher institutions because most universities do not have policies on rape or sexual harassment of students.

“We also need to review some of the laws on rape and sexual harassment that will not give easy way of escape for the perpetrators,” she said.

She said that there was need for right policy in place to address rape and sexual harassment in the country.

According to her, there should be police station on campus that takes care of sexual harassment and rape in higher institutions.

Another discussant, Fakhriyya Hasim, from Arewa Me 2 Foundation, also called on victims of sexual harassment, especially from the northern part of the country to speak out.

Hasim said that the awareness of relevant laws against sexual harassment and rape was low and there was need to increase it.

She said this would make victims to take appropriate action and give warning to the-would-be perpetrator.

Other participants which include secondary school students some who were victims of sexual harassment and rape also bore their minds on the issue.

Some of the girls who craved anonymity said that they could not speak out because of stigmatisation and threat to their lives by the perpetrators.


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