Sex for grades con­tro­versy

The Punch - - EDITORIAL - • Ukpong Vic­to­ria vick­[email protected]

The sex-for-grades phe­nom­e­non has been with us for a while, most es­pe­cially in in­sti­tu­tions of higher learn­ing. It is now even preva­lent in most sec­ondary schools in the coun­try. From uni­ver­si­ties to even pri­mary schools, pupils are sex­u­ally as­saulted by teach­ers.

The BBC Africa Eye did a great job re­cently bring­ing these acts into the light mak­ing vic­tims bold enough to speak up.

The doc­u­men­tary high­lighted a well-known phe­nom­e­non that some aca­demics use their po­si­tion to force stu­dents into hav­ing sex in ex­change for grades in their tests and ex­am­i­na­tions .

Since the re­port, the BBC has been re­port­edly con­tacted by more than 120 peo­ple shar­ing per­sonal sto­ries of al­leged abuse and ha­rass­ment in the ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem.

The First Lady of Nige­ria, Aisha Buhari, and many other celebritie­s have spo­ken on this sub­ject call­ing for change and com­pletely putting to an end these atroc­i­ties in our in­sti­tu­tions of higher of learn­ing.

A young lady, 20, told me of her ex­pe­ri­ence in pri­mary school. She was in Pri­mary 3. her sports teacher, an el­derly man of about 85 years now, she claimed, abused her in his of­fice and she has been scared to open up un­til that BBC re­port was aired.

The Speaker of the house of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, Mr. Femi Gba­jabi­amila, said the rev­e­la­tion called for a mo­ment of reck­on­ing for the coun­try, not only for those lec­tur­ers whose abuse of their po­si­tion and the trust of their stu­dents had been caught on tape but those who are still hid­ing in the shad­ows.

It is in­struc­tive to note that these ab­surd prac­tices do not only hap­pen in the ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem but also not only to the wom­en­folk al­though they are com­mon amongst them.

Male stu­dents sex­u­ally abused by fe­male lec­tur­ers should be sure to speak up so that this men­ace would be curbed once and for all.

On the other hand, in some cases, it is the fault of the stu­dents (ladies) who take them­selves to their lec­tur­ers with mu­tual con­sent.

These ladies de­cide not to at­tend lec­tures or sit for tests be­cause they have ways to set­tle their cour­ses with the lec­tur­ers in­volved.

Lec­tur­ers should learn to be up­right, dis­ci­plined and flee from ev­ery form of cor­rup­tion as well as re­port to the school au­thor­i­ties those in­volved in these prac­tices. With­out fear, stu­dents that are mo­lested or threat­ened by their lec­tur­ers should be bold enough to speak up and try as much as pos­si­ble to get enough ev­i­dence so as to cre­ate a good case against them.

The Aca­demic Staff Union of Uni­ver­si­ties has called for a thor­ough investigat­ion and sanc­tion­ing of the lec­tur­ers in­dicted in or­der to sani­tise the uni­ver­sity sys­tem.

Lec­tur­ers that were ac­cused have been suspended till in­ves­ti­ga­tions are con­cluded.

In 2016, the Se­nate had passed the Sexual ha­rass­ment in Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion In­sti­tu­tion Bill which pro­vides a five-year jail term for any lec­turer con­victed for sex­u­ally ha­rass­ing a male or fe­male stu­dent.

The bill was spon­sored by Se­na­tor Ovie Omo’agege, who is now the Deputy Pres­i­dent of the Se­nate.

This bill also pro­poses a N5 mil­lion fine as an alternativ­e just as it has pro­vi­sions fo ed­u­ca­tors who may be falsely ac­cused by their stu­dents to ini­ti­ate pro­cesses by which stu­dents could be pun­ished for false ac­cu­sa­tions.

There was no con­cur­rence by the house of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives which made the bill in­valid. ASUU kicked against the pro­posed law be­cause, ac­cord­ing to it, “in all in­tents and pur­poses, it un­der­mines uni­ver­sity au­ton­omy.

The hu­man Rights Writ­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion of Nige­ria, a group, has pro­posed the in­tro­duc­tion of a bill to au­tho­rise the chem­i­cal cas­tra­tion of rapists. The group has gone ahead to send the pro­posed law to the At­tor­ney General and Min­is­ter of Jus­tice, Abubakar Malami, Min­is­ter of Women Af­fairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen, the Se­nate Pres­i­dent, Ah­mad Lawan, and the Speaker of the house of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, Femi Gba­jabi­amila.

It is cu­ri­ous that nei­ther the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment nor the Min­is­ter of Women Af­fairs has yet to re­lease a re­port on this is­sue but all hope is not lost.

The gov­ern­ment should look into the mat­ter and in­ves­ti­gate not just uni­ver­si­ties but the whole ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem.

Par­ents should ask their children more ques­tions and learn to lis­ten. Sup­port them so as to speak up and end abuses and sexual ha­rass­ment in all sec­tors.

From sex for grades, to rape, sex for em­ploy­ment and many other hideous re­quests, it is time ev­ery­one spoke up and spoke out and for those who are bold enough to speak, we need to stand with them and not to silence them. Be­cause the cul­ture of silence has en­dured too long.

Let’s all rise to build a bet­ter ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem for our­selves and gen­er­a­tions to come. It’s not enough to speak up, help end these is­sues.

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