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Senate Debates Omo-Agege’s Sexual Harassment Bill

Posted by: On November 7, 2019 || Categories: News


The Senate on Wednesday debated the sexual harassment bill initiated by Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege.

The bill scaled second reading on the floor of the Senate.

The
proposed legislation titled “A bill for an Act to Prevent, Prohibit and
Redress Sexual Harassment of Students in Tertiary Educational
Institutions and for other matters connected therewith 2019” has 27
clauses.

The bill proposes up to 14 years jail term, with a
minimum of 5 years, without an option of fine for any educator who
commits sexual offences in tertiary institutions, Igbere TV reports.

The
bill defines sexual offences as including sexual intercourse with a
student or demands for sex from a student or a prospective student or
intimidating or creating a hostile or offensive environment for the
student by soliciting for sex or making sexual advances.

Other
forms of sexual harassment identified in the bill are grabbing, hugging,
kissing, rubbing, stroking, touching, pinching the breasts or hair or
lips or hips or buttocks or any other sensual part of the body of a
student; or sending by hand or courier or electronic or any other means
Unclad or sexually explicit pictures or videos or sex-related objects to
a student, and whistling or winking at a student or screaming,
exclaiming, joking or making sexually complimentary or uncomplimentary
remarks about a student’s physique or stalking a student.

Senator
Omo-Agege, in his lead debate, said: “The most effective way to deal
with the offence of sexual harassment in our tertiary institutions is to
penalise the very impropriety of the act, with or without consent.”

According
to him, sexual harassment must be defined in tertiary educational
institutions as statutory rape with strict liability for offenders to be
prosecuted easily.

On the extension of the bill to primary,
secondary schools, worship centres and workplace, Omo-Agege said doing
so will not be necessary because the Criminal and Penal codes already
adequately deal with these categories with sufficient clarity.

He, however, stressed that the bill prescribes expulsion for students who falsely accuse educators of sexual harassment.

He
said: “An educator whose character is maligned is at liberty to sue for
defamation under the law of defamation which is well-settled in our
jurisprudence and needs no duplication in this bill.”

The Senate
also on Wednesday considered President Muhammadu Buhari’s Finance Bill,
2019 initiated by Senate Leader, Abdullahi Yahaya.

Senator
Abdullahi said the bill essentially seeks to promote fiscal equity by
mitigating instances of regressive taxation; reforming domestic laws to
align with global best practices, and introducing tax incentives for
investments in infrastructure and capital markets.

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