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Rape: Nigerian universities must have units to investigate gender and sexual harassment – Oludayo Tade

From a Part-time Lecturer at the University of Lagos (Unilag) to the Professor of Law at the University of Calabar (UniCal) , the sad involvement of intellectuals in moral debauchery of sex exploitation of female students has further confirmed the slip of the Nigerian society into moral anomie. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the university symbolizes structure of moral purity. The University is an institution designed for the pursuit of intellectual growth of the society and ought to be divorced from the everyday concerns. But as universities become encircled by communities, and as a gathering of various people with various peculiarities, we cannot but find saints as well as sinners cohabiting. Rape is a subset of sexual assault which is gaining ground due to our docile and sentimental nature which downplays the inhumanity of some of us against the vulnerable. Rape in our ‘knowledge factories’, like the other reported cases outside the walls of universities indicate the erosion of trust in our society. While the UNILAG case indicates abuse of trust, the UNICAL involved abuse of office, threat and capitalization on the vulnerability of the student.

While aligning with those who talk about the indecent dressing on our campuses, this is not an excuse to force any student to have sex. Rape in the ivory tower is an opportunistic crime when we consider the place where the reported cases occurred and sometimes, it may involve active connivance of criminal conspirators. The status of a course of study makes ladies susceptible to sexual harassment. Courses are categorized as core, required and elective. All these courses may make weak students particularly susceptible to harassment. Ladies in part-time, Distance Learning and Diploma courses are more vulnerable to sexual assaults than regular students. Their lengths of stay on campus may make some yield to compromising behaviours. Academically weak students are also vulnerable. They are willing tools for randy lecturers. They patronize lecturers and may be ‘willing’ to negotiate grades. Tests, examination and project supervision are periods of trial for even the serious students if they are allocated to a lecturer nursing sinister ambition.

Nigeria is not yet in the league of top twenty countries in the world where rape is more deadly but if we care is not taken to enforce the necessary laws, it will get out of hand. The social networks of randy lecturers are strong that it sometimes frustrates any efforts at reporting.

Why rape students? Sociologically, it is rational action because the benefit outweighs the cost as it is in Nigeria. Rapist lecturers operate like other typical offenders based on power, anger and sexuality. The compromised lecturers operate from the position of strength of their power as having the ability to determine who will be found worthy to graduate. Thus they feel insulted if their subtle request is rejected by the ladies. They set up obstacles such as failures in test and examinations, and openly insult and harass their victims with the aim of having their way. Rape becomes a weapon of domination and a victory of masculinity. Rape is a crime that is symptomatic of patriarchal societies like Nigeria.

I once attended a polytechnic in the southwest of Nigeria where some lecturers deliberately set illogical questions and plunge the students into confusion. They work with class representatives both to recruit their girls and collect monies. But there are those already marked to be sexually assaulted even when such girls offer money. A lecturer would collect money to adjust grades and went to such extremes as collecting clothing items for himself and his spouse who was a secretary in another department. He would only help if you offer something for himself and his wife who was a secretary in another Department. In Nigeria, things are so bad that the particular spouse, who was a part-time HND student, became a lecturer when her husband, the rapist lecturer, became the Director of the Campus! On the other hand, there were cases of upright lecturers who was not in the circle of raping and extortion of students were set-up with these same girls.

The way forward is having a supportive judiciary in attending to rape cases and their punishment if the case ever gets to that stage. If a rape case appears before a male judge, he is more likely to make a mess of it. The female judge feels affected and would be more likely to dispense justice.

While universities cannot have dress codes, effort must be made through university welfare offices which should be headed by females to check nudity and very indecent dressing and behavior even though rape has no excuse in a decent society. In fact,  rapist lecturers should face a degradation ceremony; a shaming parade within the university. Such a lecturer, after prima facie has been established, must have his picture published in the university calendar in a name-and-shame action.. Universities must also be fined if a case of rape is established within their confines. Doing this will make institutions enforce high moral standard among the workforce. Universities must have a unit to investigate gender and sexual harassment as is being done at the University of Ibadan under the Gender Mainstreaming Office. This unit must be allowed to function properly, and lecturers found guilty must be disciplined within the stipulated laws.

Rape comes under offences against morality in the criminal code and we must arrest it with strict adherence to the letters of the law against rapists.

 

MONDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2015. 9:30 a.m. [GMT]

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4 Comments on “Rape: Nigerian universities must have units to investigate gender and sexual harassment – Oludayo Tade”

  1. folakemiodoaje Says:

    The only way to change attitude towards rape in Nigeria all round would be for perpetrators, regardless of economic or social class, to get treated equally under the law.

    Anyway, as you have rightly pointed out it is such a great thing that we can talk about this openly now.

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    • emotan77 Says:

      Dear Folakemi,

      Thanks for stopping by.

      You hit the nail on the head: the fact that females are beginning to speak out rather than as it was in the past when it was a scarlet letter being asked for by owning up to being raped is a giant step forward. WhT is needed now is for government to give the judicial muscle to prosecuting known cases of rape within and outside universities and other institutions of higher learning.

      My regards,
      TOLA.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

  2. Naijamum Says:

    E ku ojo meta ma. Good post as usual, but I disagree with you on the assumption that female judges will be fairer in administration of justice. You are a good person irrespective of your sex. A female lecturer that is an acquaintance of mine was of the opinion that female students should be able avoid trouble from lecturers if they can maintain a good rapport with those lecturers, and that was after we forced her to acknowledge the fact that sexual harassment exist on our campuses, because she wanted us to believe that there was no such thing. I disagreed vehemently with her on the grounds that good rapport or bad rapport or any kind of rapport for that matter, should not determine the outcome of your grade or how long you would spend to complete your course at the university. My own experience of sexual harrassment at a Nigerian university would fill more than ten blog posts and this made me vow that none of my children would go through the same ordeal.

    It is also my belief that the issue of indecent dressing is over-hyped: why are there no sexual harassment on campuses in developed countries? There was a lecturer when I was in school whose targets were those who wore hijabs and dressed modestly. He used to say it was that thing they were hiding ‘gan gan’ that he wanted to ‘eat’ (his words, not mine).

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    • emotan77 Says:

      Dear Naija mum,

      Long time, no see! I’ve missed your usual forthright contributions to discourse here.

      You are right on the mark about the problem of sexual harassment and rape which has become a cankerworm. I also agree that female judges may not offer much succour by way of dispensing justice when rape cases come before them but the writer’s view may be the best way out of a near dead-end situation. Mr. Tade’s suggestion, too, that each university needs to set up a sort of rape crises committee should also be useful.

      In all, awareness, which is just beginning is the way to go on the matter.

      Greetings, and thanks, as always,
      TOLA.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

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