By Ifeoma Akubue-Izundu
Student in tertiary institutions have been advised to report cases of s3xual harassment to appropriate authorities in school for the culprits to be severely punished in accordance with the law.
The admonition comes as a report indicated that cases of s3xual harassment of females on campuses have been on the rise.
A Nutritionist and Dieticians, Dr. Elizabeth Barbarinde, who presented a seminar titled “Minimizing S3xual Harassment in Our Campuses” disclosed that the females in campus have the highest cases of sexual harassment with 60 per cent of the total number of respondents.
At the seminar held in the Princess Alexandria Auditorium, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Dr. Babarinde, a lecturer at the Department Of Nutrition and Dietetics, in her speech titled “Findings on the Survey of Information to Minimize S3xual Harassment,” reported that while the female gender dominated the cases of s3xual harassment 60 per cent, the males accounted for 37.6 pet cent. According to her, demographic data of the respondents revealed that 71 per cent are students and 25 per cent staff.
She also gave a break down of the student respondents into their different levels; first year students comprised 41.7 per cent, penultimate year accounted for 31 per cent, while others were below 27 per cent of the total number.
Based on the age groups, she reported that students between the ages of 20 to 23 constituted the highest with 33.3 per cent . She concluded by stating that of all the different faculties in the university, the Arts Faculty reported the highest cases of s3xual harassment with 38.9 per cent.
While speaking on the factors that promote s3xual harrassment on campus, Prof. Ola Onuoha, a lecturer in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, mentioned lack of awareness by new students, poverty, gender inequality, avarice, harmful cultural norms, desperation by students to pass exams, indecent dressing, cohabitation by students of opposite gender and inadequate security.
She further made a lucid distinction between between flirtation and s3xual harassment to which she said that the former does not bring about bodily harm or post-traumatic effects but the latter does.
Prof. Sabinus Ofoefule, director of Service Commission (SERVICOM) and former Dean of Student Affairs, in his lecture which focused on the University’s policies towards s3xual harassment, implored students to speak out if they are being s3xually harassed, stressing that the long arms of the law would catch up with the culprits as nobody is above the law, adding that combating s3xual harassment is the sole mandate of SERVICOM.
He also called on students to report to the appropriate authorities in school on noticing early signs or acts of s3xual harassment on them.
The deputy vice chancellor for Administration, Prof. Patrick Okpoko, who represented the vice chancellor, Prof. Charles Igwe, asserted that s3xual harassment on campus or anywhere is something that is peculiar to both genders as against the popular notion held that the females are the major victims.
He therefore opined that the moment a lady wears a skimpy dress to the s3xual excitement of a man, she has s3xually harassed the man in obscurity. He also emphasized the need for modesty in dressing, stressing that it is a major catalyst to combating sexual harassment.
Also, speaking on the procedures for minimizing s3xual harassment, the Dean of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Prof. Patience Osadebe, stressed that students should act as third parties or bystanders in cases of s3xual harassment by swiftly reporting to appropriate authorities to avoid risk of being identified as accomplices themselves to high profile cases.
The Registrar of UNN, Dr Ngozi Nnebedum who delivered the final lecture titled “The Role of the University in Minimizing S3xual Harassment” assured students that the university would not treat with kid gloves cases of s3xual indiscipline brought to its table either from the students or the staff even as she highlighted the laws of the university against indecent dressing and s3xual misconduct.
In conclusion, Dean of the Student Affairs Department, Prof. Edwin Omeje, urged the students to muster the courage to report cases of s3xual harassment adding that students should study very hard to avoid leaving them vulnerable to s3xual harassment, especially from staffs.
He thanked the students for their rapt attention and being steadfast till the end of the lengthy seminar urging them to be at the vanguard of the movement against s3xual indiscipline in the university and beyond.