Sexual harassment: Group offers free legal service to victims in universities


As part of efforts to curb the menace of sexual harassment in schools, a non-governmental organisation, Inanna Women Empowerment Foundation (IWEF), has called on students to report any form of sexual assault offering such persons free legal assistance.

Speaking at a sensitisation programme held at the Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo campus, the group enjoined female students to report cases of harassment from sexual predators within and outside their campuses by interfacing with civil organisations within their reach in the state.

Chief Executive Officer of the group, Mrs Funmilayo Akinremi said the programme, the first in the series, was to encourage students to speak out when abused, especially when faced with sexual harassment and sex-for-marks in the institutions.

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She said the group’s commitment was borne out of the vision to improve lives and capacities of at least one million African females by January 2020, with emphasis on education and economic as well as emotional empowerment.

“To achieve this, the group, through its programme themed, “Big sister hotline stop sexual predators on campus”, pledged to render free legal assistance to victims of sexual assaults.

A sexual assault referral centre operator, Mrs. Itoro Eze-Anaba, maintained that any sexual act done to someone against his/her consent is a sexual offence.
Mirabel Centre, 

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Eze-Anaba, who was represented by the centre’s manager, Mrs Juliet Olumuyiwa-Rufai, said consent is a voluntary agreement of persons to engage in sexual activity and the age of consent in Nigeria is 18 years. 

She identified the common forms of sexual abuse on campuses as date rape, sex-for-marks, set-up abuses, harassments, sexualised touching, use of coercion, intimidation, threat, manipulation and force. 
She dismissed claims that dressing provocatively is a major cause of sexual harassment, puncturing the argument with the alarming statistics of 4,514 reported cases of sexual abuses handled by the centre so far, which included a three months old baby.

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According to her, “118 males, 4,396 females, 3,642 children and 872 adults, between July 1, 2013 and May 31 2019 were sexually abused.”

She said the causes were based on varied factors, ranging from faulty beliefs, misconceptions and harmful traditional practices.

The Director of Citizens Mediation Centre, Mrs Omotola Rotimi in her presentation said no one deserves to be sexually harassed, noting that victims or survivors should take steps to seek legal redresses for the violation of their rights, which could be done through mediation or litigation.

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