Don’t Be Afraid to Report Cases of Sexual Harassments to us: ICPC Urges Students of Tertiary Institutions

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has urged students of tertiary institutions in Nigeria not to be afraid of reporting issues of sexual harassments to the Commission.

The charge was given during a one-day sensitization workshop on Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Education Institutions held at the ICPC’s headquarters on Wednesday.

In his welcome remark, the Secretary to the Commission, Mr. Clifford Oparaodu noted that one of the major challenges militating the fight against sexual harassment in tertiary institutions was lack of reportage from victims due to fear of stigmatization or further victimization.

He said, “It is pertinent to note that unlawful benefits are not always pecuniary, and it is disheartening that sexual gratification has become a form of “illegal tender” in many institutions. Staff have been found to use their office to demand and receive sexual benefits from other staff and students in exchange for good grades or other favours. Unfortunately, due to the fear of stigmatization or further victimization, many targets of such demands find themselves forced to succumb, in order to avoid dire consequences and denial of benefits to which they may ordinarily even be entitled.”

Mr. Oparaodu added that the culture of silence had allowed sexual harassment to thrive, but that ICPC was working relentlessly to ensure that with sensitization and appropriate policy implementation, this culture would gradually change.

He stated further that the sensitization workshop was organised for staff and students to enable them to gain a proper understanding of the concept of sexual harassment and appreciate the enormity of the problem as well as to provide a platform for participants to understand the mandate of the ICPC in relation to abuse of office via sexual harassment.

While reeling out some of the initiatives ICPC had executed to tackle Sexual Harassment, Mr. Oparaodu stated that the Commission had developed two Model Policies for Basic Schools (Primary and Secondary Schools) and Tertiary Institutions.
“At the close of the Project early this year, the Commission undertook to continue the vision by ensuring that the Model Policies are approved by the relevant authorities, widely circulated and publicized. It is in line with that undertaking that a series of workshops commenced after approval of the Policies by the Federal Ministry of Education.
“A team was set up in the Commission called the Sexual Harassment and Abuse Response Team (SHART) to co-ordinate investigation, prosecution of cases and enlightenment activities on Sexual Harassment. vi. Several reports relating to Sexual Harassment have been received and investigated by the Commission and prosecution is being carried out in some notable and identified cases.” he said.

The workshop was attended by students and staff of University of Abuja and Federal College of Education, Zuba, Niger State.