#SexForGrades is a reminder that nothing will stop Nigeria’s #MeToo movement

MeToo

Yesterday, Nigerian journalist Kiki Mordi, in partnership with Premium Times and the BBC released an investigative documentary about the exploitation, coercion and blackmail of students across universities in Nigeria. #SexForGrades as the phenomenon is called, sees lecturers, professors and other university officials in positions of power, abuse that power to solicit sex from male and female students. Mordi’s documentary focused on girls and women who have been victims of this kind of coercion and even exposed a number of active professors who were captured on video targeting under-aged girls for sex.

Retaliation has been swift. Dr. Boniface Igbeneghu, the Unilag associate professor of French caught on tape trying to assault BBC’s undercover reporter has been disowned by the Foursquare Gospel Church where he was a pastor and the University of Lagos after initial denials has also suspended the professor pending further investigations. Professor Gyampo, the Ghanaian professor who was also caught on video coercing a student to marry him, even though he was supposed to mentor her in her academics was publicly shamed by students in his faculty when he tried to teach a lecture just after the BBC documentary was aired.

The BBC has also expanded its investigation by opening an inquiry into the hundreds of first person accounts that poured out in response to the documentary, suggesting more university officials who have misused their positions and influence will be outed and publicly disgraced.

Yet, in spite of the overwhelming evidence, many commentators have tried to either derail the conversation, or shift the blame back to the victims of the systematic oppression that has left them vulnerable to exploitation. Some accused the BBC of trying to embarrass Nigeria and Ghana for political reasons, others have suggested that students also coerce lecturers to engage in sexual activity in exchange for grades. Both are familiar arguments that were offered when the #MeToo movement involving girls of secondary school age in early 2019 surfaced, alleging that teenage boys were sexually assaulting their classmates. It was also used as a defense when YNaija brought back to the fore, the accusations against Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA) pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo. This backlash just affirms the belief that our problems with rape culture and exploitation of women and girls is systematic, and upheld by a culture that allows people get away with minor acts of sexual assault, coercion or forced persuasion.

But, with each wave of women who come forward to tell their stories and name their attackers, it becomes increasingly obvious that Nigeria is ripe for a reckoning and a revolution. And no amount of nay-saying, suppression and violence will slow the tide of justice that is coming to these predators and attackers.

#MeToo is coming for you.

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