The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu said on Tuesday that the federal government was embarrassed by allegations of sexual harassment in the nation’s universities and other tertiary institutions.
Adamu also advised female students against going to lecturers unnecessarily; while also warning them not to harass their lecturers.
The minister made the remarks at the University of Port Harcourt during the unveiling of a policy document against sexual harassment in the institution.
Adamu, who was represented by the Assistant Director, Tertiary Department of the ministry, Mrs. Ijeoma Duru, expressed the need for female students to study hard in order to be able to defend their certificates.
He charged female students to desist from going to lecturers unnecessarily and to also stop harassing their lecturers sexually, admonishing that the sexual harassment policy launched by UNIPORT should be adopted by other tertiary institutions.
Commending the management of the university for being the first to unveil a policy document against sexual harassment, the minister pointed out that the policy would go a long way in curbing the menace of sexual harassment in Nigerian higher institutions.
“The Federal Ministry of Education is embarrassed with the allegations of sexual harassment in Nigerian higher institutions. Girls should read their books and be able to defend their certificates.
“They (female students) should stop going to lecturers unnecessarily and should not harass their lecturers.
“We are recommending UNIPORT’s Sexual Harassment Policy to other higher institutions in Nigeria,” Adamu advised.
Also, the Vice Chancellor of UNIPORT, Prof. Ndowa Lale, lamented that sexual harassment had taken over public discourse and space in Nigerian universities, describing the situation as “a crying shame.”
Lale explained that university students should feel safe and secure under the protection of the institution’s authorities to pursue their education in an uninhibited environment that should allow them to bring out their best.
“Some victims of unwanted sexual advances, assault or rape are known to have dropped out of school to stay away from the maddening crowd.
“In extreme cases, some victims have even contemplated or actually committed suicide as a coping mechanism.
“Some male lecturers are known to publicly boast among their circle of friends outside the university that their female students are a form of ‘ bush allowance’ awarded to them by benevolent Cupid to augment their poor pay.
“It is now time for such randy Romeos to wake up from their dream state and face reality.”
The vice chancellor, however, warned lecturers and administrators in the university not to involve themselves in any form of sexual harassment.
He also cautioned students involved in harassing lecturers to award them undeserved grades to desist from such act or be ready to face serious sanctions when caught in the act of self advertisement to their lecturers.
“Any Juliet, who blackmails vulnerable male students or their colleagues into amorous sexual liaisons should be ready for the long arm of the Policy on Sexual Harassment.
“Also, visitors who believe that the university is a happy hunting ground for cheap sex should think again, as they would be apprehended, held liable and prosecuted in line with relevant provisions of the policy,” Lale added.
In her lecturer as the keynote speaker at the event, Prof. Nwadiuto Akani listed some of the actions that constituted sexual harassment.
They include unwanted sexual teasing, telling a target about sexual stories, and calling someone ‘Babe’, honey or darling.
Others, according to Akani, are unwanted touching of a target’s body, making kissing sounds, unwanted hugging, sending of unsolicited amorous text messages and creating a hostile environment in order to get undue advantage against a target.