By Emmanuel Afonne
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has signed an agreement with an NGO, Gender Mobile Initiative (GMI), to fight against sexual violence in tertiary institutions in the country.
Ms Omowumi Ogunrotimi, Executive Director and Founder, Gender Mobile Initiative (GMI), an NGO in forefront of campaign against sexual violence, said on Wednesday that the agreement became necessary to ensure that no student was left behind in the campaign.
Ogunrotimi said that the group’s advocacy against sexual violence had no particular gender in mind as male and female folks suffered sexual harassment by the opposite sex.
She said that a bystander intervention mechanism had been created to provide support for students to build the capacity of other students to provide a support system to others who found themselves in such a situation.
“When you are doing advocacy at this level, you have to get the buy-in of critical stakeholders; if we are talking about addressing sexual harassment in tertiary institution, then, NANS is a critical component of that process.
“It is very important that it is part of it; it is also very important that it carries on the vision and takes ownership of the process. That way, where you are to spend N10, you probably spend N5.
“There are several bureaucratic processes in the environment of learning, more so, when you are doing advocacy to bring about a change.
“It’s possible that you meet resistance but when you get the buy-in of an umbrella body like NANS which mandates it to cater for the needs of Nigerian students, it also shows that we will have a seamless process.
“So, we are also trying to address some of these dynamics which we need to consider to achieve concrete results. At the moment, we are in partnership with Vice Presidents of some of these institutions.
“We will continue to broker such partnerships to ensure we get our desired result,” Ogunrotimi said.
NANS President, Dayo Asefon, said sexual violence had become a monster that must be tackled headlong in tertiary institutions.
“This is a war student leaders must come together to fight; sex for marks must not be condoned and we must fight it to a standstill.
“NANS leadership is happy to associate with Gender Mobile in this fight against abuse of privileges on the students.
“You will see lecturers interested in having sex with student making it a condition to get a pass mark in their exams; this is what we must come together to fight, so I have to sign it.
According to Asefon, the campaign is expected to achieve the desired goal in the shortest time possible since 99 per cent of the NANS Vice Presidents in the over 300 tertiary institutions in the country are females.
“Most of our vice presidents in all our campuses are female students and I urge the group to work with them because they are closer to their female counterparts,” he added.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that GMI is partnering no fewer than 100 tertiary institutions in the country to ensure that sexual violence was eradicated in institutions of learning.
The group also plans to launch a sexual violence reporting app popularly known as “Campus Pal” in various tertiary institutions in the country in March, to report cases of sexual harassment.
The app is developed with the support of Ford Foundation, an international NGO, with special focus on students, lecturers, non-academic staff members and people coming to the environment of learning. (NAN)