Why lecturers, ASUU are against ‘sexual harassment bill’

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has kicked against the 2016 sexual harassment bill before the senate.

ASUU is opposing the bill on the basis that it will undermine the autonomy of universities.

The disapproval of the Union was made known by Biodun Ogunyemi, ASUU president at the public hearing of the bill which was arranged by the senate committee on judiciary, human rights and legal matters.

The sexual harassment bill was sponsored by Ovie Omo-Agege and co-sponsored by 57 other senators.

The bill looks to affix a 5-year jail term for lecturers found guilty of sexually harassing students among other things.

Ogunyemi said there were already laws that clearly addressed the issue of sexual harassment and that universities were established by law as autonomous bodies.

“As a global norm, universities and other tertiary institutions are established by law as autonomous bodies and have their own laws regulating their affairs,” he said.

“This includes misconduct generally among both staff and students, with clearly articulated appropriate redress mechanism. Any law or bill which seeks to supplant these laws violates the university autonomy.”

“In this particular instance, the bill violates the federal government of Nigeria and ASUU agreement of 2009 and as such should be rejected.”

Noting that the bill was targeted at lecturers and educators, Ogunyemi described it as discriminatory because sexual harassment is a societal issue and not a problem peculiar to tertiary institutions.

He said the bill was a violation of section 42(1) of the 1999 constitution, even as he chided the lawmakers for attempting to make laws that would flout the tenets of the constitution.

Ogunyemi also said that the bill had failed to convincingly prove that sexual harassment in tertiary institutions had reached a level higher than in other aspects of the society.

“The bill is discriminatory, selective, spiteful, and impulsive and lacks logic and any intellectual base by attacking the character and persons of those in tertiary institutions rather than addressing the issue holistically,” he said.

“Furthermore, the bill is dangerous and inimical to the institutions as it contains several loose and ambiguous words and terms which could also be used to harass, intimidate, victimise and persecute, especially lecturers, through false accusation.”

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