Sexual violations: Group tasks govt. on safe working environment

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By Bolanle Lawal

Government at all levels have been advised to ensure an environment free of sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse in all its forms for its workers.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the advice is contained in a communique issued at the end of a one-day stakeholders’ forum and training held in Ado-Ekiti on Tuesday.

The forum was organised by the Ekiti Ministry of Health under the COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Project (COPREP), a World Bank-assisted project.

The forum deliberated on issues bordering on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA), Sexual Harassment (SH) and Gender-Based Violence (GBV), said to be demeaning, devaluing and exploiting the vulnerability of others.

It described as worrisome the increasing trend of indecent exposure at workplaces and in communities; poor case reporting; the culture of silence and reported cases of minor abuse and defilement at private schools in the state.

The forum, therefore, urged the government at all levels to take deliberate steps to tackle these sexual offences at workplaces and in the communities.

It recommended the development and domestication of a Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and Harassment (PSEAH) Workplace Policy at all MDAs and LGAs to address the violations in the public service.

According to the communique, the forum called for the review of the state Public Service Rule to ensure that SEA/SH/GBV at workplaces are treated with the required urgency outside the ‘gross misconduct’ provision.

It called for an express referral to the Ekiti State Gender-Based Violence Management Committee (GBVMC) through the Ministry of Women Affairs as an interested and accountable party in every investigation and trial.

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“There is the need for full implementation of the Compulsory Treatment Law, 2020 across all health institutions in the state to enforce medical services support for victims and survivors.

“The Ministry of Youth in collaboration with relevant stakeholders should intensify efforts to curb the worrisome trend in drug use and substance abuse among youths in the state.

“The Ministry of Education as a matter of urgency should collaborate with the Association of Private Schools to domesticate, implement and monitor the MoE Gender Based Violence (GBV) Policy to stem the tide of the rising incidence of minor defilement and abuse in private schools in the state.

“There is a need for sustained sensitisation on SEA/SH/GBV prevention at all levels and to promote access to active case reporting channels, including the provision of harmonised reporting tools; toll-free line for case reporting and awareness on available support services for victims/survivors.

“There is a growing need for capacity building for the traditional justice system (particularly the palace courts) across the state to report, respond and refer cases of SEA/SH/GBV in the state to promote bystander intervention as a way to make prevention of SEA/SH/GBV everybody’s responsibility,” says the forum.

Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) after the training, a female local government worker, who pleaded anonymity, said vulnerability to these contradictions at workplaces was higher farther from the state capital.

Meanwhile, the forum described sexual exploitation as any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust, for sexual purposes.

This, it says, includes but not limited to profiting monetarily, socially, or politically from the sexual exploitation of another.

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On the other hand, it identified Sexual Harassment (SH) as any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that might reasonably be expected or be perceived to cause offence or humiliation.

Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) and Sexual Harassment (SH) were said to be unacceptable breaches of fundamental human rights and a violation of the civil service rules.

NAN reports that the communique was jointly signed by representatives of the participating Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and the 16 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the state. (NAN) (


Edited by Remi Koleoso and Moses Solanke

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