Sunday, August 16,2020
Unlike the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPP) and the Sexual Offense Act that took long before they were passed into laws, the Sexual Harassment Bill was said to have sailed through easily following the unanimous support given to the bill by the senators.
The bill which was sponsored by the Deputy Senate President, according to the immediate past Country Director of Ipas-Nigeria , Barrister Hauwa Shekarau, was co-sponsored by one hundred and six senator.
Shekarau who is the incumbent chairperson of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Abuja chapter, made this known via a webinar organized by the leadership of the Network of Reproductive Health Journalists in Nigeria (NRHJN .
Captioned “Combating Sexual Harassment to Uphold Ethic in Nigeria’s Tertiary Educational Institutions” Shekarau who was one of the resource persons , said the passage of the bill “is sending a good signal that all the senators are in support of it.”
Though “a very short bill with twenty-six sections “.the bill , in her word “was very well thought out and it is very comprehensive.”
Citing the Sexual Offense Act that was championed by former Senator Chris Ayanwu during the seventh Senate that took “almost two terms legislative sessions before the bill saw the lights of the day and the VAPP that took over thirteen years “before it was eventually passed into law, the reverse, as made known by her, was the case with the aforementioned bill.
Observing that sexual harassment “is a very perversive issue in our Nigerian society, and not just in the tertiary or educational institutions” she wished the bill would had not been restricted to the institution of learning alone but as well as to places of works and communities
Lamenting that the sexual harassment in the work place “is one of the worst in the whole world in Nigeria” the reason which she said “is because we don’t have extend laws that prohibits sexual harassment across board” she advocates for the immediate harmonization of the laws in order to make it more easy for the “prosecutors, the police and lawyers in order to ensure their implementations.”
Sad that “our criminal justice system is so floored ” Shekarau who was also the former President, Federation of Women Lawyers , is however optimistic that with all hands on desk, implementation of the law would eventually see the lights of the day stating that “if advocates are all committed, and dedicated to fighting this scourge , we shall triumph.”
Dejected that “today justice is for the highest bidder” she urged members of the networks and other advocates to continue to “speak up, speak out and insist that the right things be done” stating that “when we know people who have done the wrong thing, we should name and shame them.”
Drumming that “unless that is done and we continue to do it constantly without fear” things , as envisaged by her “would continue the way they are” stating that “we must never casualized it, we must come out and kick against it.”
Believing that the members of the House of Representatives would also toy the paths of the senators ” so that the bill can be transmitted to Mr. President for assent , she urged advocates and other concerned citizens not to go to pending the effective implementation of the bill.