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Sex-For-Grades: A Post-Mortem

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Two weeks ago, the BBC released a year-long investigation documenting the sexual harassment behaviour of some lecturers at the University of Lagos and another university in Ghana.

After the documentary was released, new word entered into our lexicon – ‘Cold Room’ – a place where lecturers carried out their nefarious activities at the University of Lagos. I am sure almost all the federal universities in the country have a ‘cold room’ – a typical place or building officially designated as a relaxation spot for Lecturers but unofficially turned to sexual molestation den.

Am I surprised by the revelations? Of course no! It’s an open secret that most lecturers demand sex for grades in almost all the public universities in Nigeria. In most cases, the academically weak female students are usually the targets.

At least with this expose, sanity will return to our higher institutions and lecturers will learn to zip up and female students who have no intention of reading but sleep their way through school will just have to sit up too.

However, sex-for-grades or rewards is not limited to universities alone. Women are harassed everywhere. We need to beam more searchlight on all aspects of our public life.

We hear constant stories of sex-for-roles in the Nollywood. Sometimes you see half-baked acting in Nollywood movies and you wonder how the actress got the role. Some unscrupulous untalented actresses even go as far as paying producers to appear in movies .

Sadly, even in workplaces, ladies get constantly harassed for sex in order to get promotions and redeployment to juicy places especially in the civil service. In private organisations, the story is not different. Sex for promotions is the norm.

The question is how can we stop all these? First, by imposing stiffer penalties against culprits of sexual harrassment or molestation anywhere they are found.

It is gratifying to note that the Senate has revisited the Sexual Harassment Bill which was sponsored by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (APC, Delta Central) and passed by the 8th Senate.

The Bill which was introduced by the 8th Senate in October, 2016 seeks a five-year jail term and N5million fine for lecturers convicted for sexually harassing male or female students.

However, in my opinion, I think a five-year jail term is too lenient. Rather, a minimum of 15 to 20 years for any offender will make him lose his libido faster than he got it. Naming and shaming the culprits like the case of University of Lagos and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and as well as being championed by the Ekiti State government is definitely the way to go.

Furthermore, in all of these, I don’t think sex-for-grades or for promotions will stop anytime soon. The death penalty or life imprisonment in some cases have not deterred kidnappers or bandits from carrying out their trade. A total change or re-orientation of the citizenry and a return to our values system would be the first step in changing our societies and country as a whole.

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