"WR6_gUnUj-ztiW07KQcOCnTel9A"/> Notes From Atlanta: Re: The Sexual Harassment Epidemic in Nigerian Universities

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Re: The Sexual Harassment Epidemic in Nigerian Universities

As usual, I am sharing with you a sample of reader reactions to last week’s column. I will write more on this subject next week.

 Thank you for sharing this. On the part of ASUU, I am a member of the ethics committee working to develop a policy document to address this problem at the union level. The committee has been working assiduously and in the light of this recent development, we have additional ammunition to prevail on the National Executive Council and principals of the union to adopt our recommendation with seriousness and utmost urgency
Rabia Said, Kano

This is a fairly balanced report but you also need to consider the other side. Even though this does not in any way excuse the action of the lecturers, many of the girls do tempt the lecturers, too. I give two instances: I lectured in a university in Nigeria in the 1980s. One of my student s was always flaunting her major 'asset' at me instead of concentrating on the lectures. She failed the semester exams. She approached my friend to talk to me to accept sexual favors from her in exchange for a passing grade in my course. Of course, I rejected the offer. Secondly, while doing a Ph.D. coursework in another university, another incident took place. A girl had failed a course and offered herself to the lecturer. The lecturer declined and said she should give it to his friend who should give a positive report to enable her grade to be inflated. The friend declined but decided to contact me for the service. Again, I said 'no'. This is pitiable.
These stories are not meant to exculpate lecturers but to highlight that many girls themselves do not devote themselves to academics. They pursue other activities. It should be noted that as chaotic as the system is, the girls always have the right to ask for re-marking of their scripts.
Isa Le


I hope the NUC and the ASUU would "courageously" handle this disturbing issue with all the fairness and seriousness it deserves. Instinctively and tribalistically supporting every opportunistic lecturer in the name of solidarity or unionism would not help our society into which our own daughters would grow. Just before the shutdown of mobile communications in Maiduguri, a female student of mine complained to me almost daily during Facebook chats about a certain lecturer who is harassing her and pestering her for illicit sexual favours almost daily. The power relation is decidedly in favour of lecturers and presently there is no formal structure or channel for complaint. Students cannot graduate unless they pass ALL the courses they have registered for. And lecturers fear such a structure would hand "mischievous" students a ready tool for blackmail! This fear can easily be resolved through a formal structure which employs thorough investigation of allegations on a case-by-case basis.

We often erroneously scoff at America for its "moral decadence" but it is clear from your write-up that the US stands on a higher moral pedestal than Nigeria not only in sexual matters but in the general conduct of public officers. I am not talking about consensual sex between unmarried people which the West generally condones, if not encourage; I am talking about attitudes to sexual crimes like rape, harassment, etc. These crimes deserve the degree of seriousness given to other types of misconduct (especially doctoring of results to victimize or favour students) by lecturers. The first piece of advice I received from a senior colleague when I got a teaching job at a university is "don't lose your job in the name of helping a student to pass". He was referring to result-changing by a teacher to favour a student which has led to the termination of appointments for many in the system. The society must hold lecturers to a high moral standard. Without formal safeguards and supports, many victims would not come out to complain because of fear of reprisals; they would rather suffer in silence in a conservative society.
Abdulrahman Muhammad, India

Let me start by saying may Allah S.W.T bless you and reward you with Jannatul firdausi for daring to speak the truth, despite the fact that you come from the same academic environment in question. It's really sad and frightening the way our universities are turning into academic brothels. I recall during my undergraduate years how one of the lecturers in the Dept. Of Political Science was caught red-handed having sex with a girl in his office!! But the least punishment he got was a suspension. He is still working with the university and nothing changed from his behaviour. He even has the audacity to make some sexually suggestive comments to female students whenever he feels like.  I do hope this write-up will be a wakeup call to the very few good academicians and people in power to sanitize our universities from the clutches of the he-goat lecturers that take advantages of our dear sisters and daughters. I think NUC should copy from Banks where fraudsters are not given a second chance. Please Sir, bring out more of this write-ups as we are in dire need of them.  THANK YOU VERY MUCH SIR!! ONLY GOD WILL REWARD YOU. PLEASE KEEP IT UP.

Thanks for yet another wonderful piece. The issue of sexual harassment is now rampant on most of Nigeria’s corporate organizations, not only campuses. But I agree that the university case is more disturbing, because it is the breeding ground for future leaders where they are supposed to be found worthy in both "character" and “learning" before they earn their degrees. However, due to laggardness and materialistic aggrandisement of some female students they tend to make "advances" to the lecturers for higher grades, and also pimp themselves to rich folks (staff or student) for sponsoring their studies. Prof. Nigerian university campuses are next to brothel. There is nothing one can do. Charity should begin at home.

Abubakar Mohd Isah, Bauchi

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