Menace of sexual harassment: Beyond wails and penalties

The society in this era is confronted by this disturbing social menace, sexual harassment. Perhaps, it might appear very pronounced in this era, consequent upon the jet age avenues by which information is spread.

Without being narrow-minded, however, sexual harassment of any kind-rape, sex for favor or opportunities, intimidated sex etc, date as far back as to the history of men and society.

As society advances, the perception of what is right and wrong or what is moral and immoral as regards marital life and sexual behavior varies accordingly to respective epochs. Our generation has witnessed different marital cultures, or ‘by extension’, sexual behaviors, as  between elderly men and teenage girls as we see in Northern Nigeria where such culture is permitted. This kind of marriage could be seen as immoral in the Southwest and in legal setting, the sex is considered an assault or rape being that a minor is involved.

Indeed, there is an age-long attempt to objectify women. This is strengthened by the belief system that portrays women as weaker vessels, the same perception that is exploited by the system, leading to patriarchy as well as other societal structures that continue to subjugate women.

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In the same light, there appears to be a system that finds one class of people dominating another (an economically weaker class), and in making this domination easier, the whole weak class is gradually suppressed when it already conquers a faction of it through gender discrimination or sexism.

Like the age-long sexism and of course, sexual harassment, the need to question the relegation of women’s roles in the society had since begun too, in what seemed like the then feminism, but yet to be pronounced.

Sexual harassment of female has some parts of it in some socioeconomic and political ideas (subjugation of women, rooted in patriarchy and in the domination of men in positions of authority).

Men has since been given this domineering orientation over the female sex.

Gathering from back and forth, our societal problems are more of a systemic reflection than the wails and penalties that follow them, and it appears this is what many have failed to identify with, especially because the ruling bureaucracies shy away from them. Perhaps the deliberate negligence favors the bureaucracy.

In many cases of sexual harassment, there are proportionate legal punishments, but despite this, the act is still highly prominent, and which would still likely be even if the punishment was death by firing squad.

Another scenario which clearly shows the failure of state laws in tackling crimes, really embedded in systemic root cause, is the question of congestion of prisons. In our attempts to tackle sexual harassments, we have left out the role of quality education (orientation) to enlighten potential victims and potential perpetrators on the scientifically proven ways to avoid and end this menace.

What are the roles of our psychotherapists, psychologists, sociologists, psychiatrists, experts in physical and social sciences? What are our students researching about in the institutions on how to tackle many societal menaces such as these?

Our education is not to hoard knowledge or commercialise it, it is to advance the course of humanity for the benefit of all.

Gbenga Oloniniran,

Nigerian Tribune

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