The Mothers And Marginalised Advocacy Centre (MAMA Centre) commends the passage of Sexual Harassment Bill by the Nigerian Senate, calling for prompt Presidential assent to transmit the Bill into law.
While we appreciate the proactive legislative processes that informed the passage, we observed in the decision of the Upper Chamber, sincere commitment to address the plights of Nigerian women and girls, who constitute the major victims of the growing trend of sexual harassment, sexual abuse and sexual molestation in the country.
It would recalled that MAMA Centre had through various programmes and activities as well as widely published media motions, joined other well-meaning organisations and individuals to condemn sexual harassment in all forms, with strong demand for appropriate policy response in institutionalizing proactive measures and enabling reporting system to support judicial interpretation of processes and laws to adequately sanction offenders in mitigating recurrence incidence at all levels.
We are hopeful that if signed into law and fully implemented, the new legislation will safeguard women and girls from years of traumatic and injury-inflicted moments were allowed to drag or go unpunished in most cases for inadequate policy response and judicial interpretation to sanction and bring perpetrator(s) to justice.
We are also happy that the new legislation sanctions unprecedented sexual harassment in educational institutions by making it an offence and removing mutual consent as a defence in prosecution of sexual harassment, while making the formal walls conducive centres of learning.
We therefore, call on President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of national urgency, assent into the Bill it is transmitted by the Senate.
We encourage the State Houses of Assembly to follow suit in rapid adoption and full implementation of the Bill, as a demonstration of sincere commitment by the State Governments to secure health, emotional and physical well-being of women and girls in the country.
We further call for strengthened capacity of law enforcement agencies to understand provisions of the new legislation to efficiently interpret and apprehend suspected offenders.
We also call for prompt passage into law, the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill, at the Federal and State levels to domesticate the CEDAW and AU Women’s Protocol; adoption and full implementation of the Violence against Women Bill at all state levels.
Barr. (Mrs) Ola E. Onyegbula
Executive Director, MAMA Centre