Incessant sexual harassment in tertiary institutions

Court, Rape, Sexual harassmentSexual harassment is so entrenched that it has become a regrettable part of the social fabric of Nigeria. For decades now, multiple counts of sexual harassment have been the hallmark of social coexistence in Nigeria. Hardly a day passes without a claim of sexual harassment being reported against people.

The criminalisation of sexual misconduct in educational institutions has become imperative, as this has been in existence for a very long time with very little done to address it holistically. Sexual harassment and rape cases are common in virtually all educational institutions, including primary schools.

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The level of sexual harassment that goes on in our tertiary institutions is overwhelming and alarming and no tertiary institution seems to be exempted: universities, polytechnics, colleges of education and the rest. Unfortunately, even religious institutions are not exempted and this menace has gone on for so long unchecked. Things happen when least expected. Tertiary institutions should be platforms of moulding lives and influencing would-be leaders, but the mostly recent issues have shown that moulders themselves need to be moulded.

Sexual harassment is no longer what tertiary institutions across Nigeria and Africa at large needs to take with levity and there are certain facts that sexual exploitation of females are on the rise everyday, which is negatively impacting the psychological and physical wellbeing of women. It is pertinent to affirm here that the vast majority of cases of sexual violence against female university students in Nigeria go unreported for various reasons associated with stigmatisation, character assassination, public backlash and limited access to justice for victims.

Many students who are victims of this harassment are not bold enough to report to the student authorities for fear of being victimised in their examinations by the culprit-lecturers and therefore most of them suffer in silence. Many female students have been molested and it has become a cankerworm eating up our tertiary institutions. Unfortunately, this has become normalised within many institutions.

In many cases, female students who have reported such cases have been subsequently targeted for reprisals by thugs, cultists or university teachers and if this is unchecked, these students would carry physical, emotional and mental scars with implications later on in life.

Okanlawon Ayoola, Offa, Kwara State.

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