Nigeria: Dreadful Culture of Silence on Sexual Harassment Must Be Broken, Says Ekiti First Lady Fayemi

Ekiti State First Lady, Erelu Bisi Fayemi on Wednesday posited that the dreadful culture of silence about sexual harassment in higher institutions of learning must be broken.

Speaking at the official launch of the Anti-sexual Harassment Policy of Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-ife, she pointed out that tertiary institution needed a policy on sexual harassment and a zero-tolerance culture.

She remarked that leadership of tertiary institutions needed to demonstrate that they were serious about the issue and should not condone a culture of abuse, silence and impunity.

“Where there are policies in place to prevent and deal with sexual harassment, they should be implemented to the fullest extent possible,” she said.

The first lady stressed that as, “OAU launches this document today, I would like to appreciate all the members of the ASH Committee, under the able leadership of Professor Moji Olateju, for their hard work on this document.

“I thank the VC Professor Eyitayo Ogunbodede for inviting me to join the ASH Committee. I accepted the invitation to serve as my punishment for telling the VC that SH and GBV issues are always swept under the carpet, because of the insular practices of tertiary institutions!”

She reminded the university community that policies and procedures were meant to be implemented and not left to gather dust on shelves, saying in the absence of concrete action, impunity would continue to reign.

She remarked that OAU was one of the greatest universities on the African continent, and should lead by example on this issue as the vice-chancellor has promised the required political will to implement the policy, which she claimed was vital for success.

She posited “Gender mainstreaming teaching and learning need to be strengthened here at OAU. We also need data and analysis of SGBV/SH trends on an ongoing basis. The Center for Gender and Social Policy Studies should therefore strive to be a center for excellence in the study and teaching of GBV and power relations in an evolving world.”

She urged that Anti-Sexual Harassment Committee should have a robust Monitoring and Evaluation framework in place so that progress and challenges could be noted and lessons learnt.

“This policy should be shared with other tertiary institutions around the country as others work towards establishing models of good practice. I am on the Governing Council of Elizade University and we are currently developing our Gender Policy as well as a Sexual Harassment Policy”

However, in his remarks, the Vice-chancellor, Professor Eyitope Ogunbodede, said the Senate of the University has approved the revised Anti-Sexual Harassment Policy of the University, the launching and official presentation of the policy to the public slated for April 2020 could not hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He noted that the University intended to launch the policy immediately normal activities resumed.

Yinka Kolawole in Osogbo

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