The Nigeria Feminist Forum (NFF), Saturday, called on President Bola Tinubu to sign the Sexual Harassment of Students in Tertiary Education Prohibition Bill into law.
The group’s request is sequel to allegations of sexual abuse by the dean, Faculty of Law, University of Calabar, Professor Cyril Ndifon.
Ndifon was accused by the Law Students Association of Nigeria (LAWSAN), on Monday, of being a serial sexual abuser, using his position to take advantage of female students.
Our correspondent reports that the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, in a release, set a committee to probe Ndifon. UniCal also suspended the ‘erudite’ professor.
The Feminist Forum made their position known in a press statement by its communications/programs assistant, Adaeze Ekpunobi.
The forum’s statement read in part, “The suspension of Mr Ndifon from his position as dean of the Faculty of Law is a necessary step towards addressing the serious allegations against him. However, this incident highlights the urgent need for the president to sign the Sexual Harassment of Students in Tertiary Education Prohibition Bill into law.
“We therefore call on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to sign the bill into law to protect students against sexual harassment by educators and promote ethical standards in tertiary institutions in the country.
“Ndifon’s previous suspension in 2015 following accusations of rape raises serious questions about the effectiveness of the measures taken to address such misconduct. The lack of clear evidence exonerating him after his 2015 suspension is a cause for alarm and underscores the importance of a transparent and just investigation process.
“The Nigeria Feminist Forum urges the University of Calabar to establish an impartial and expert-led panel to thoroughly investigate the allegations against Mr Ndifon and call for the active participation and protection of survivors throughout the investigation, ensuring that their voices are heard, and their rights respected.”
The release quotes the World Bank Group’s Women, Business and Law survey (2018) stating that, “Seventy percent of female graduates from Nigerian tertiary institutions have been sexually harassed in school. The appalling statistics of sexual harassment in higher education institutions call for an urgent need for all higher education institutions to prioritize students and staff’s safety and well-being by implementing clear and robust sexual harassment policies.
“These policies should encompass stringent measures to prevent and address incidents of sexual harassment, ensuring that perpetrators are held accountable for their actions.”
The forum therefore advocated for ‘the establishment of confidential reporting mechanisms, support services, and awareness campaigns aimed at preventing and addressing sexual harassment on campuses. It is imperative that a culture of respect, dignity, and equality be fostered within academic environments where everyone can thrive without fear of harassment or discrimination.”
It urged policy makers, university administrators, and civil society organisations ‘to collaborate in crafting and enforcing comprehensive sexual harassment policies that guarantee the safety and dignity of women within higher education institutions’.
Adadareporters reports that the forum is committed to supporting initiatives that promote gender equality, address sexual harassment, and create a conducive learning environment for all.