Nigeria’s first lady, Aisha Buhari, has commended the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, for its hard work, bravery and tenacity to expose the ills facing students in the country’s tertiary institutions.
She made the commendation during the exclusive screening of the BBC Africa Eye ‘Sex for Grades’ documentary on Monday night in Lagos.
The first lady lamented that the issue of sexual harassment against women was not unique to universities, but has become prevalent in the society, including religious settings.
Mrs Buhari, who was represented by Mrs Aisha Rimi, a lawyer, condemned sexual harassment against students, saying it was unacceptable as the nation’s educational system had suffered many setbacks that had hindered its development.
“This simply has to change. It is no longer enough to sweep allegations under the carpet or force victims to withdraw their allegations, victimise or stigmatise them,” she said.
She stressed that there are laws to protect victims of sexual harassment and abuse, but such laws cannot operate except victims speak out to get justice.
Mrs Buhari advised women that their dignity and self respect should outweigh whatever challenge they face, stating her support to ensure a sexual abuse free society for women.
Also, Bisi Fayemi, Wife of Ekiti Governor, said that it was time to speak up, speak out and stand by victims of sexual abuse, saying the culture of silence must end.
According to her, universities should have clear sexual and violence policies that will protect students and the sanctity of the educational system.
Mrs Fayemi called for a sexual offence register that would contain list of indicted lecturers, thus preventing them from moving to another university if sacked from one, to commit similar atrocity in another institution.
She stressed the need to be accountable for the well being and care of the young ones, ensure justice for survivor of sexual abuse and the political will to prosecute and punish offenders.
Mrs Fayemi urged the society to desist from shaming survivors of sexual abuse, rather name, shame and punish offenders to serve as deterrents to others.
Mrs Toun Sonaiya, Chief Executive Officer, WFM Radio, said that everyone should collectively amplify their voices against issues of sexual harassment and abuse against girls and women.
She advocated for a safe environment that would enable women share their experiences without fear, and ensure diligent investigation and prosecution of offenders of such allegations.
“Sex for Grades” is a 53 minutes documentary that exposes alleged sexual harassment against students by lecturers in the University of Lagos (UNILAG), and University of Ghana, Legon.
The documentary features the personal story of Kiki Mordi, an investigative journalist with WFM Radio, who worked with the BBC Africa Eye team to expose the ills in the Universities, based on her personal experience of sexual harassment by lecturers.
During the year long investigation, journalists posing as students made secret recordings of male academics who harass and abuse young women.
The investigation was conducted by BBC Africa Eye to expose the problem of sex for grades faced by students in many higher institutions.