The Sexual Harassment Problem In Nigerian Universities

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So, a few weeks back the internet was fraught with the news of a recording gone viral. A professor from the acclaimed Obafemi Awolowo University was caught on tape actively requesting sexual favors from a Masters student to ‘up’ her grade.

I know riggghhhht? SHOCKING.

However, that’s not the most SHOCKING thing, even more shocking was the general public’s reaction to the event. Obviously, there was the initial outrage, especially seeing as the lecturer had asked for 5 rounds to raise her grade to a B. Wait sorry, did I say B? He merely said he’d give her a grade that wasn’t an F, at most a C but definitely not an A or B. A lot of us might be extremely great at maths and would be able to do the calculations and arrive at how many rounds said ‘nutty professor’ would have requested to raise the grade to an A.

In my opinion, he should kuku kill the girl.

I was however surprised to see some individuals that faced off on Miss Osagie calling her a myriad of names ranging from ‘hoe’ to ‘husband thief’ to ‘home wrecker’. I’ve tried my best to view the issue practically, and I cannot understand how her actions resonate with that of a ‘husband thief’. It’s a bit preposterous.

Fine, this is a touchy subject, but there’s absolutely no getting round it. Lecturers requesting for sexual favors from students(most often females) to give them passing grades is almost a commonplace occurrence. In October of 2016, a married lecturer at Cross River State University of Science and Technology, Ogoja was videoed soliciting for sexual favors from his project student. In 2005, Lagos State University relieved a lecturer of his duty as he was caught in his underpants with a 200 level student in a hotel room. In December 2016, 12 lecturers at Auchi Polytechnic were sacked due to matters ranging from promiscuity to extortion. Asides Nigeria, a 2010 survey of college students in Ghanian and Tanzanian universities showed that “sex-for-grades” was the most common form of harassment students faced on campuses. Miss Monica Osagie is just one of many that have had to pass through the ordeal of being faced with the option obtaining their pass grades through less-appealing means or being subjected to failure.

This sheds light on an even larger misconstruction in our society, and that’s the relegation of females as less than human. The truth of the matter is that the ONLY reason a well seasoned professor would be confident enough to request for sex to raise a students grade without batting an eyelid is for the majority of two things. One, would be the complete and utter lack of respect for the female’s person, family or future career and the other would be the fact that said professors or lecturers feel immune to any form of reproach or investigation. The fact that these occurrences are so rampant breaks my heart.

I, personally am glad at the steps Monica Osagie has taken to ensure her story didn’t rest at a few ears. In her recent interview with CNN, she says “I am happy I came out. I am helping many ladies that have gone through the same thing I have done through, and most of them cannot talk about it.” 

Only by talking about things can we actively ensure change. It’s the same thing with history, If we neglect our past we cannot hope to better our future. Acclaimed author and propounder of the #MeToo movement, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie recently shared a story of her ordeal with sexual harassment. In response to critics who asked why she’d waited so long to come out, Sheexplains that a part of her felt ashamed, and had even continued submit to the toxic masculinity her harasser displayed. ‘I moved, but politely, so I wouldn’t offend him. I continued to ask for help with publishing even after it happened’. The massive response to the worldwide #MeToo movement was a simple pointer to the fact that sexual exploitation is still a huge challenge, not just in Nigeria but in even far more developed countries. This speaks to the fact that more movements need to be initiated, and more stringent policies put in place. We’re slowly winning the war that stomps on women breaking glass ceilings, and breaking out of molds. They should be at least able to obtain an education without being exploited, sexually and in any other demeaning manners.

Adichie said again in another speech, ‘We do not only risk repeating history if we sweep it under the carpet, we also risk being myopic about our present’. I could not agree more. Stories like Monica’s deserve to be heard. Only then can we truly move forward.

Sources: CNNAfrica, Punch

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