- Vice president Yemi Osinbajo has advocated against blaming sexual harassment victims on grounds of dressing manners or other excuses
- Osinbajo also recommended that sexual offenders should be made to face the strictest possible punishment
- The vice president stated this at a webinar organised by Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife
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Nigeria's vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, has lent his voice in support of the victims of sexual harassment in the country.
Speaking on Wednesday, September 9, at a webinar on Anti-Sexual Harassment themed Finding Safe Spaces for Female Students in Nigerian Universities, Osinbajo said blaming victims of sexual harassment is wrong, Daily Trust reports.
"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 and should be resisted in every situation.
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"The victim must always be seen as the victim and not to be blamed," he said.
Legit.ng gathers that the webinar was organized by the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife.
According to the vice president, “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.”
Advocating stricter punishments for rape offenders especially in situations involving lecturers and their female students, Osinbajo said “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.”
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," he said.
“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.”
Speaking further on ways of resolving issues around sexual harassment in Nigerian universities, the vice president said the search for answers to creating safe spaces for female students in universities must begin from the question of why such a rampant crime is so under-reported.
According to him, “there are obviously many cases of people who share their anecdotal experiences without necessarily reporting to the authorities. I think the answer is clearly that this low reportability is on account of the fact that many victims do not feel confident that they will get redress, or that they will be treated fairly or that they will not be visited with the same fearful consequences that was the subject of the demand in the first place.
“The fear that they will neither get a sympathetic nor understanding hearing, let alone justice, and that they will end up suffering the same consequences the predator had threatened would occur if they did not submit to their demands. Then there is of course, the shame and stigma that could attend speaking up.”
“I think that in ensuring that we create safe spaces, we must do at least the basics, which is providing the support and resources they need to report abusers. Every institution must make it easy for victims or potential victims to report perpetrators to trusted formal structures or secure channels created specifically for the purpose of resolving such cases,” he added.
Osinbajo also recommended the adoption of a mandatory “well thought-out whistleblower process emphasizing confidentiality, professional legal and medical help for victims or potential victims.”
In another report, Osinbajo said the COVID-19 pandemic has deepened the economic hardship and the poverty situation in Nigeria.
The vice president made the statement on Tuesday, September 8, during his presentation at a retreat organised for ministers, permanent secretaries and top government functionaries.
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