A former chairman of the University of Lagos chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Dr Laja Odukoya, says a sexual harassment bill recently passed by the Senate is unfair to educators in the country.
The bill, titled "A Bill for an Act to prevent, prohibit and redress sexual harassment of students in tertiary educational institutions and for matters concerned therewith, 2019", was passed after third reading during plenary on Tuesday, July 7, 2020.
The bill prevents lecturers from having or demanding sexual intercourse from students or prospective students; making sexual advances; or directing another person to commit any act of sexual harassment.
While speaking during an interview on Channels TV on Thursday, July 10, Odukoya said ASUU is against any form of sexual offences and usually educates its members to not compromise their roles as educators.
However, he said the bill is also discriminatory and targets a particular set of people over a problem that he said is pervasive in the whole of society.
"There's no doubt that girls and the womenfolk are much more vulnerable in our society but that equally will not be sufficient to make laws that will only look out for their interest.
"Boys and men are equally sexually harassed in different set-ups in the society," he said.
Section 7 of the bill stipulates that a student cannot grant consent to a sexual relationship with a lecturer.
Odukoya said the section is 'worrisome' because students have also been known to compromise lecturers so that they can pass out of higher institutions.
He said that there are already laws in the country that cover the issues raised in the bill which he insisted is only needlessly targeting lecturers.
"Yes, we should protect our women, but we're saying there are boys too that need to be protected, lecturers need to be protected," he said.
The bill prohibits lecturers from whistling, winking, stalking, making sexual jokes, or making sexually complimentary or uncomplimentary remarks about a student's physique.
They are also prevented from grabbing, hugging, kissing, rubbing, stroking, touching, or pinching the breasts, hair, lips, hips, buttocks, or any other sensual part of a student's body.
Upon conviction, offenders can be sentenced to as low as two years in prison, or as high as a maximum of 14 years in prison, with options of fine, or both.
The bill will be forwarded to the House of Representatives for concurrence, and then forwarded to President Muhammadu Buhari to either reject or sign into law.