Felix Ikem, Nsukka
The Gender Development and Policy Centre (Gen-Cent), University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) in collaboration with Women Aid Collective (WACOL) has taken the campaign against sexual harassment in tertiary institutions to the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus (UNEC).
The Centre, which promotes gender research and policy maters, had earlier launched the anti-sexual harassment campaign in Nsukka campus of the university December last year.
Speaking at the event, held at the Main Hall of UNEC on last Friday, the Director of Gen-Cent, Prof Anthonia Achike urged students to speak out whenever they encounter incidences of sexual harassment, stating that her centre had experts who are poised to take up cases of sexual harassment and would ensure that justice is done to the victim.
She advised students to shun acts and behaviours that predispose them to be sexually harassed, urging them to “move in the company of people you trust and dress decently.”
Prof Achike said that one of the objectives of the sensitization exercise was to articulate views that would guide the centre in developing policy on sexual harassment for the University of Nigeria.
“If you are not bold to report cases of sexual harassment, you are encouraging the act,” the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, UNEC, Prof Edith Nwosu, who represented the Vice-Chancellor, told staff and students at the event.
Prof Nwosu said that the issue of sexual harassment in tertiary institutions had assumed a dangerous dimension and had attracted global attention.
She described the menace as a canker devastating human dignity, urging staff and students to respect human dignity by exercising self-control.
The DVC commended the Gen-Cent and WACOL for leading the sensitization against sexual harassment in tertiary institutions, stating that the programme would give her staff and student the boldness to confront the issue.
Prof Nwosu said that the university administration had zero tolerance for sexual harassment and would ensure that victims who speak out would be protected.
Dr Obi Nnamuchi, who presented a paper on “Legal Issues in Sexual Harassment”, on behalf of the Director of WACOL stated that although Nigerian law does not specifically recognise sexual harassment there are related provisions in the constitution that can be applied to bring justice to victims.
He urged students to break the silence on sexual harassment and speak up as that was the only way of addressing the problem.
Fliers containing complain hotlines of Gen-Cent and WACOL were distributed to staff and students that attended the event.