The dilemma of sexual harassment in Nigerian tertiary institutions- Kizito Duru

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Institutions of higher learning the world over command high respect for their role in the political and socio-economic transformation of the society. The Nigerian tertiary institutions, no doubt; have come a long way, in moulding leaders and intellectuals, who have not only shaped the destiny of this nation but scientifically created icons who are still contributing their intellectual prowess to the advancement of the world. Apart from being centres in the acquisition of relevant skills, they champion the course of the oppressed and are equally instrumental in introducing socio-political reforms anytime, anywhere.

But a close look at activities in our campuses these days, paints a completely negative picture. The stories coming from these citadels of learning are not only discouraging but betrays the moral standard for which campuses are known for. Cultism, bribery, prostitution, sexual harassment and gratification are the ills threatening seriously the moral foundation of the tertiary, institutions in the country. As the clock ticks, the good principles that are the bedrock of our tertiary institutions are being eroded by some morally debased set of people who are supposed to act as teachers, lecturers, mentors and fathers to these children (students). For the purpose of this essay, I shall limit my attention to sexual harassment in our campuses, as it appears to be the most pronounced of the evils that are fast becoming the order of the day in tertiary institutions.

It is embarrassing, appalling and a disappointment that an environment believed to be moulding men and women who would be found worth in character, is where the highest record of sexual harassment and illicit office romance are in top gear. Some lecturers forcefully demand sexual gratification from students (most times females) to pass them in their course. Some female students as well willingly, even before the lecturer demands for it, offer themselves, in pursuit of unmerited marks and grades.

It is pitiable when one thinks of what becomes the future of the country when saddled in the hands of students, who either offered bribe or sex in exchange of grades that appeared in their certificates.

Ludicrously, the common accusation by these lecturers is that, these children (student) through their provocative modes of dressing, lured them into demanding for such gratification. This is a lazy, baseless and infantile excuse from men who are bankrupt, spiritually and morally. I have friends and relations who are studying outside the shores of the country. Many of them are in western universities (UK). The mode of dressing of students over there is worst than what we see in Nigerian campuses, yet, to my bewilderment, there are few reported cases of sexual harassment from their lecturers. As much as I believe that the dressing, of our girls of today and mothers of tomorrow is nothing to write home about, it does not in any way a cogent reason to trigger sexual stimulation. Where is self control? Does it mean that same lecturer will lust over his daughter, if she dresses indecently?

Admittedly, our female students have their failings. Some seduce and even sexually blackmail their lecturers so as to easily scale through the school system at ease. Laziness has become synomous with the academic lifestyle of these students. They pursue frivolities and unnecessary social life, which add no value to their lives. These students often device various means of sexually trapping any lecturer they want into submission. Lecturers in our campuses have cashed in on the lifestyles of these sex freaky students to frustrate others who don’t heed to their evil demands. In their thinking, every girl who wishes to pass, must do what desperate and lazy ones are doing. This mindset is the reason behind the series of reported cases of sexual harassment, initiated by lecturers, in our tertiary institutions. 

In a society like ours, where the government does not care about protection of the rights of the citizen, who will listen to the voices and cries of the innocent victims, who are on daily basis affected, bullied, deflowered and cajoled into submission to give out their God given jewels to some irresponsible men, who call themselves lecturers? Most times I wonder if these man have conscience, don’t these flesh thirst men know that the law of karma awaits them; their children will as well face the same treatment they subjected their female students to. These lecturers are having a field day because Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUP), Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUU) and Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union are only interested in going on strike every now and then, instead of checkmating this menace that is fast ravaging our revered higher institution. What manner of discipline and sanctions have they (ASUU, ASUP) put in place for their members who are found wanting, morally? And if there are, do they implement such disciplinary measures on their members who erred, to serve as deterrent to others? These are mind bugling questions begging for answers.      

Evil continues to thrive because of the silence of men of integrity. I believe we have kept quiet for so long, and our silence is beginning to affect our society. What role are we playing as parents, tertiary school administrators, students and trade unionists to tackle this problem? As I write this, somewhere at this moment, students are having sleepless nights and thoughtful days on how to escape the sexual advances of some lecturers, most of whom are even old enough to be their fathers. This treacherous and precarious act, if allowed to continue, will not only destroy womanhood but also the moral fabrics that hold us together. 

Today, our nation is lagging far behind in development. The Nigerian society is a paradox of its own self. A nation rich in both mineral and human resources, but sadly saddled with morally bankrupt and visionless leadership and sinful followers. What do you expect from a nation, whose engine that filters and moulds the mindset of its supposed leaders at all levels of developmental process is polluted by ungodly tutors who do not possess the moral standard and spiritual capacity to be in this all important institution?

This publication is not targeted at vilifying or heaping all the blames on the shoulders of lecturers, No! But mainly to draw the attention of the public and parents to the silent disease that is seriously eroding academic excellence in our tertiary institutions. I am of the belief that there are still some good ones amongst them, who have not soiled their reputation by their actions and thoughts. These few good lecturers are the only surviving hope of our tertiary institutions, and the future of the country by extension.

It is imperative to note that, until these bad eggs are identified and shown the way out of our tertiary institutions across the nation, bad leaders will continue to rule this corporate arrangement called Nigeria, because it is often said that “unless society enlightens itself with brotherly thinking and noble qualities, it will never gain harmony or unity therein. All hands must be on deck for us to successfully fight this monster that is threatening the foundation of fairness, hardwork and excellence in academics. May God protect and guide our wards from the evil machinations of these men who take pride in debasing womanhood with impunity.

Truth is bitter, bitter as honey!          


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