By Glorious Amalu-Jack
The fact that Sexual Gender Base Violence SGBV exists in our tertiary institutions cannot be overemphasized. It is a Hidden Pandemic that may gradually be accepted as a norm if not nipped in the bud. The big questions are: who will bell the cat? Are the victims bold enough to speak out? If yes, who do they confide in?
In most cases, the victims report to another perpetrator who would either sweep it under the carpet or threaten the victims further with expulsion or make the victim stay longer than necessary on campus.
As we are aware, education is an integral and normal part of women/girls’ lives and more school children are added to the universities every year. Will it be proper to allow them to be admitted into a corrupt system – where there is sex for grades and be infested too? The answer is a capital NO. This is because upon graduation, they become advocates and the vanguards of the hidden pandemic that is eating deep in our system.
Compromise by the students could be attributed to the inadequate preparations for the young ones before gaining admission into the universities. Without adequate awareness through pieces of literature, videos, and music, it may lead to more hazards in our Institutions. Some victims encourage the naive freshman into giving in to sex for grades believing that it is an acceptable practice in the institutions.
The troubling reality is that both young female students and married ones are victims of this disturbing pandemic. With Sextortion on our campuses, it becomes unconducive for learning. Research showed that a total survey of 4,500 students from 153 institutions found that almost two-thirds (62%) of respondents have experienced sexual violence at United Kingdom universities. This figure increased to 70% amongst female students, and almost three-quarters (73%) for students with a disability.
Nigeria is not left out. A lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University was found guilty of a sex scandal and sacked. There was also a case of the harassment of a postgraduate student at the University of Lagos. Likewise, the most recent one was at the University of Calabar where a Dean of the University’s Law Faculty was accused of sleeping with the female students with the threat of making sure they would not graduate if they did not succumb to his amorous advances.
Nevertheless, there are more unreported cases of sex for grades in Nigerian universities than the reported cases. The question is: why would a victim not report?
It is also worth noting that sextortion exists in our Secondary Schools. In 2019, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Capital Territory Administration suspended two teachers of the FCT School for the Blind, Jabi, for allegedly molesting female students of the school. How would a teacher who has the mandate to teach and protect a child living with disabilities resort to abusing her? That is barbaric and a decay of conscience.
But back to our questions. Why were the victims unwilling to report? As I said earlier, there is no established channel of reporting. The unsuspecting victims ignorantly report to another perpetrator who would either sweep it under the carpet or threaten the victims further with expulsion or with a threat that the victim would stay longer than necessary on the campus.
Another reason why some students prefer to be silent is when they see the fruitlessness of another student’s reports. Sometimes too, the victims are intimidated into withdrawing the petition and forced to admit that they raised a false alarm. The universities especially the privately-owned ones, would defend the lecturers just to save the name of the school.
What is the way forward? I would recommend the establishment of a proper reporting channel. Such channels should be independent of the management of the institutions. If found guilty after investigations, decisive measures should be taken against the perpetrators. Above all, the students should be academically prepared to read and pass their exams. In most cases, the weak students are prone to molestation and victimization.
Amalu-Jack wrote in from Abuja.