The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, has urged Nigerians, to stop blaming victims of sexual abuse for their harassment.
He said the notion that victims or potential victims of sexual harassment are architects of their fate, especially by their attitude, dressing or willingness to be in a compromising place with their violators is wrong.
He stated this on Wednesday at a webinar on Anti-Sexual Harassment themed “Finding Safe Spaces for Female Students in Nigerian Universities”, organized by the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife.
The vice president said the idea of blaming the victim should be resisted in every situation.
According to him, “the victim must always be seen as the victim. There cannot be an excuse, especially given the power configuration between students and lecturers, that the victim could have somehow invited the abuse upon themselves. I think it is an important consideration to be made and we must not allow that notion to persist.”
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The Vice President however advocated for a stricter punishments for rape offenders especially in situations involving lecturers and their female students.
He said that there was also the comparison sometimes made between demanding bribes for service and sex for grades.
According to the vice president, people will argue sometimes that a bribe is a bribe and there is no reason why the punishment for sex as the currency of the bribe should be stricter than an ordinary bribe.
Osinbajo said developing and adhering to a set of ethical codes of conduct for conversations and interactions involving lecturers and students in universities would greatly address the problem.
“To ensure that both faculty and students are sufficiently clear about the issues and rules, there is a need for a code of conduct or ethical guidelines based on best practices in appropriate student/lecturer interactions.
“It is important that these are clearly defined in ethical guidelines that are contained in some documents that people can refer to and see.
“It is important both for the lecturer and the student that there is some reference to some code of conduct,” he said.
Osinbajo also recommended the adoption of a mandatory well thought-out whistleblower process, emphasising confidentiality, professional legal and medical help for victims or potential victims.