By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says the notion that victims or potential victims of sexual harassment are architects of their fate, especially by their attitude, dressing or willingness to be in a compromising place with their violators is wrong.
Osinbajo was quoted in a statement in Abuja by his aide, Laolu Akande, to have expressed this view on Wednesday at a webinar on Anti-Sexual Harassment.
The theme of the webinar is, “Finding Safe Spaces for Female Students in Nigerian Universities,” organised by the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife.
The event was based on the book authored by notable journalist and former presidential spokesman, Mr Olusegun Adeniyi, titled Naked Abuse: Sex for Grades in African Universities.
The vice president said the idea of blaming the victim should be resisted in every situation.
“The victim must always be seen as the victim; there cannot be an excuse, especially given the power configuration between students and lecturers, that the victim could have somehow invited the abuse upon themselves.
“I think it is an important consideration to be made and we must not allow that notion to persist.
“There cannot be an excuse especially given the power configuration between students and lecturers that the victim could have somehow invited the abuse upon themselves.
“I think it is an important consideration to be made and we must not allow that notion to persist.”
He said that there was also the comparison sometimes made between demanding bribes for service and sex for grades.
According to the vice president, people will argue sometimes that a bribe is a bribe and there is no reason why the punishment for sex as the currency of the bribe should be stricter than an ordinary bribe.
Osinbajo said developing and adhering to a set of ethical codes of conduct for conversations and interactions involving lecturers and students in universities would greatly address the problem.
“To ensure that both faculty and students are sufficiently clear about the issues and rules, there is a need for a code of conduct or ethical guidelines based on best practices in appropriate student/lecturer interactions.
“It is important that these are clearly defined in ethical guidelines that are contained in some documents that people can refer to and see.
“It is important both for the lecturer and the student that there is some reference to some code of conduct,” he said.
Osinbajo also recommended the adoption of a mandatory well thought-out whistleblower process, emphasising confidentiality, professional legal and medical help for victims or potential victims.
Dignitaries, who also spoke at the webinar besides Adeniyi, the Guest Speaker, included the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq.
The First Lady of Ekiti State, Mrs Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi and the Vice Chancellor of OAU, Prof. Eyitope Ogunbode also featured.
Meanwhile, in another development, Osinbajo underscored the synergy between the legislature and the executive in supporting policies and programmes of the administration, especially those geared towards boosting the nation’s economic base.
The vice president made the submission on Wednesday at a virtual Citizens’ Dialogue on the Green Imperative Project.
The Green Imperative Project is a bilateral initiative between Nigeria and Brazilian to develop Nigeria’s agricultural production base through a mechanisation programme that is spread across the 774 Local Government Areas in the country. (NAN)