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NGO commits to addressing sexual harassments in Nigeria varsities

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Alliance for Africa (AFA) has said it was working on a project aimed at combating sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination in Nigerian tertiary institutions.

In an interview on Monday in Kaduna, Iheoma Obibi, its Executive Director, explained that this was  in response to the alarming rise in sexual harassment cases and their long-term impacts on victims.

She said the project’s goal was to create a safe learning environment in Nigeria’s universities.

“To achieve this, the project is focusing on several key objectives, policy reform  establishing non-discriminatory university, federal and state-level policies to foster an environment free of sexual harassment and discrimination,” Obibi said.

She added that the project would be  promoting women’s leadership, culture of equality and respect.

The executive director also said  promoting the adoption of gender studies as a general course in Nigerian universities would enhance women’s participation and representation in leadership roles.

According to Obibi, the current situation and statistics show that sexual harassment remains a pervasive issue in Nigerian tertiary institutions, undermining the safety and dignity of both the students and staff.

She explained that in spite of existing policies, enforcement was often weak and  the victims often face stigmatization and reprisals.

According to her, recent studies highlight alarming statistics with oOver 60 per cent of female students reported to be experiencing sexual harassment.

”Less than 10 per cent of the victims report such incidents due to the fear of stigmatization and lack of trust in the reporting mechanisms.

”Many institutions lack effective policies, leading to a culture of impunity. The Victims suffer from psychological trauma, academic under-performance and a sense of insecurity,” Obibi said.

She said ,AfA’s was currently undertaking a baseline survey across 12 universities, six federal and six state-owned.

Obibi disclosed that the survey, conducted in collaboration with gender studies centers at the universities, aimsedto provide a comprehensive analysis of the prevalence of sexual harassment.

She said , ”Preliminary results indicated that almost 70 per cent of the students have experienced some form of harassment, irrespective of ethnicity or religion, highlighting systemic failures in protective structures.”

Obibi emphasized that the finalization of this baseline survey was crucial, adding that once completed, a detailed report would be submitted to the government

She stressed the importance of media as critical stakeholders in the initiative, acting as gatekeepers for information and reporting both successes and incidents.

Obibi called on the government to establish clear referral pathways and policies to ensure a safe learning environment for the students.

She further urged the students to be courageous in confronting sexual harassment in spite of the challenges.

Obibi also called on the regulatory agencies to hold universities accountable, ensuring that protective measures were effectively implemented.

She said the NGO was ready to take significant step towards eradicating sexual harassment in Nigerian tertiary institutions, creating a safer and more equitable environment for all the students.

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