Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Senator Pauline Tallen, on Monday disclosed that not less than 36, 000 rape cases were recorded across the country during the just relaxed lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Tallen, who dropped the hint when she visited the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege in Abuja, commended him for the sponsorship of the Sexual Harassment Bill in the upper legislative chamber.
According to her, “reports from the Commissioners for Women Affairs across the country revealed that during the COVID-19 induced lockdown, each state recorded not less than 100 cases of rape.”
But she stated that by the new bill, lawmakers have written their names in gold.
The minister, who condemned the upsurge in rape cases nationwide, applauded the Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF for declaring a state of emergency on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence.
She, however, called for more legislation to protect the girl-child and women in the country.
Responding, Senator Omo-Agege, said the approval of the Sexual Harassment Bill by the Senate is in furtherance of its Legislative Agenda, which seeks the protection of women’s rights.
The Deputy Senate President noted that when signed into law, it would not only send a strong signal to those who may want to abuse women but ensure that students are not at the mercy of ‘sexual predators’.
The Bill to Prevent, Prohibit and Redress Sexual Harassment of Students in Tertiary Educational Institutions, 2020, which was passed by the Senate at its sitting on July 7, 2020, prohibits sexual harassment of students in tertiary institutions and prescribes jail term ranging from two to 14 years for various degrees of offences.
Co-sponsored by 106 lawmakers, the proposed legislation also prescribes N5million fine for offenders.
When signed into law, any educator who whistles or winks at a student or makes sexually complimentary or uncomplimentary remarks about a student’s physique would be liable to two years imprisonment or a fine of N1million, if found guilty.
It would be recalled that the United Nations Women, UN Women, had recently commended Nigeria on the approval of the bill by the Senate.
In a letter dated July 7, 2020, signed by
Comfort Lamptey, UN Women Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS and addressed to the Deputy President of the Senate, she noted that “UN Women stands ready to support federal and state level efforts to implement this important legislation in the period ahead, working closely with women’s constituencies, students, educational institutions and other relevant stakeholders.”
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