Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has called for stricter punishments for rape offenders especially in situations involving lecturers and their female students.
Osinbajo who disclosed this in his contributions on Wednesday at a webinar on Anti-Sexual Harassment themed “Finding Safe Spaces for Female Students in Nigerian Universities”, organized by the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, said there cannot be an excuse especially given the power configuration between students and lecturers that the victim could have somehow invited the abuse upon themselves.
According to him, “the victim must always be seen as the victim. There cannot be an excuse, especially given the power configuration between students and lecturers, that the victim could have somehow invited the abuse upon themselves. I think it is an important consideration to be made and we must not allow that notion to persist.”
Continuing, the Vice President said “there is also the comparison sometimes made between demanding bribes for service and sex for grades. Sometimes people will argue that a bribe is a bribe and there is no reason why the punishment for sex as the currency of the bribe, should be stricter than an ordinary bribe.”Speaking further on ways of resolving issues around sexual harassment in Nigerian universities, Prof. Osinbajo said the search for answers to creating safe spaces for female students in universities must begin from the question of why is it that such an evidently rampant crime is so under-reported.
“The fear that they will neither get a sympathetic nor understanding hearing, let alone justice, and that they will end up suffering the same consequences the predator had threatened would occur if they did not submit to their demands. Then there is, of course, the shame and stigma that could attend speaking up.”
Prof. Osinbajo also recommended the adoption of a mandatory “well thought-out whistleblower process emphasizing confidentiality, professional legal and medical help for victims or potential victims.”
Dignitaries who also spoke at the webinar besides Adeniyi, the Guest Speaker, included the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege; the Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq; the First Lady of Ekiti State, Mrs Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi; and the Vice Chancellor of OAU, Prof. Eyitope Ogunbode.
The event was based on the book authored by notable journalist and former presidential spokesman, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi, titled NAKED ABUSE: SEX FOR GRADES IN AFRICAN UNIVERSITIES.