#SexForGrades: Who Will Save The Nigerian Girl-Child?
It is a fact that sexual harassment has for a very long time become an endemic and somewhat hyper-visible issue that has eaten deep into the fabric of many tertiary institutions, organisations and even homes not only in Nigeria, but the global community at large.
On Monday, October 7, 2019, the most trending news on all social media platforms was that of Dr Boniface Igbeneghu, a former sub-dean of Faculty of Arts in the University of Lagos and head pastor of local Foursquare Gospel Church who was filmed sexually harassing a BBC Africa reporter, who posed as a 17-year-old admission seeker. He has since been suspended by Unilag and asked by his church to step down from all ministerial appointments.
It would seem that the lecturers and teachers of institutions have forgotten that besides educating and equipping students with the required knowledge and information to hold on to and work with when out in the labour market, grades are what show how well students have decoded what they have been taught.
Igbenedu’s action is not an isolated one as he was just one caught out of the many in the various institutions. Most of our institutions have become filled with predators in the form of lecturers. They use their positions to terrorize and frustrate female students into wanting to run away from attaining the best level of education as they should.
There have been many cases of lecturers failing female students because they will rather exchange the hardworking students’ grades for sex. It has even gotten bad to an extent where it seems impossible to determine if a female student got her grades on merit or by benefit.
The effect of this is that it becomes difficult to trust the education system and its standard for success. Sexual harassment affects the life of the female child in particular as she has to pay the price and go extra mile to prove she deserves good grades.
When BRANDPOWER contacted Mrs Oluwatoyin Adesiyan, a speech and behavioural therapist who is also a graduate of Lagos State University, she expressed her disgust and claimed she knows more than 6 people who have been affected by the filthy acts of lecturers.
She said; “I find it hard to believe this matter is just taking the heat. This matter is long overdue and it is not funny people are just coming out to talk about this disgraceful behaviour. A pattern turns into a habit and nothing is being done.
“When I was a student, I had close friends who were victims of sex-for-grade. They were still in school two years after I had left and some ended up starting all over. Why? Because lecturers were after them for sex and when they didn’t give in to their demands, they had to pay the price by staying extra years in school.Mrs Adesiyan also linked this harassment ‘behavioural’ pattern found most especially in men to the patriarchal abilities that has been ascribed to them.
“Psychologically, I will say the power given to men generally, is the root cause of the commonness of sexual harassment. In a country like Nigeria, or when rightly put, Africa as a whole, the patriarchal power bestowed upon men is the reason why we women are kept on the side of the field in every aspect of life. This is why I as a woman can be abused sexually, mentally, physically and I must not speak up because I will be castigated for it and the one who terrorizes me goes unpunished!
“So why will I speak up when the offender will not be punished? Many girls are raped and they dare not come out to talk about it because their stories are not believed and worse-still could be stigmatized.” With Adesiyan’s views, it could be said that violence in this part of the world is concealed by a norm in which sexual harassment against women is normalised.
However, sexual harassment is not only limited to the institutions. It happens in organisations- workplace and other social circles. Imagine walking into different organisations and giving women cameras to be hidden in their shirt buttons just like BBC Africa did with Igbeneghu. It will be shocking to know what some women have to endure on their jobs. Some women have had to give in to their bosses’ preposterous demands so as to keep their jobs. Some were fired after a new fish (woman) comes to start working for the boss. Some were not given the job at all for not agreeing to their employer’s sexual demands.
Above is a video of Dr Boniface Igbeneghu sexually harassing admission seeker…..
Apart from the social media which has been a place for victims to vent and be heard, are there any other proper platforms set by the government for the people to state their harassment cases without the fear of being further victimized and stigmatized? Are there laws properly enacted to adequately punish these perpetrators and dream killers in form of lecherous men? Has the issue of gender inequality been taken seriously in our society?
Even as there have been sexual harassment campaigns such as #arewametoo, and the internationally generated but globally escalated #MeToo, there should be stringent laws put in place to curb sexual violence against women. More active non-profit organisations which will serve as the voice for the harassed should be put in place as it will give the boldness to the offended to come out and table her case.
Enough is definitely enough. It is about time that Nigerian girls and ladies are protected and stop subjecting them to a repugnant perceived acquiescence of the society as a haven for sexual predators who see every moving female regardless of their age and vulnerability as mere sex toys to be grabbed, used and abused at will.