Bill seeking criminalization of sexual harassment suffers setback at House of Reps.

A bill seeking to prohibit and punish sex offenders in educational institutions suffered a setback in the house of representatives on Thursday.

The senate sent the bill to the lower legislative chamber for concurrence.

While moving the bill on the floor of the house on Thursday, Femi Gbajabiamila, majority leader, expressed concern that it did not take care of the other spheres of the society.

Gbajabiamila said the bill ought to take care of work place, religious institutions, among others.

He said the house should take into cognisance some of these issues so as to have a more comprehensive law.

Contributing to the debate, Ayo Omideran, a lawmaker from Osun state, said sexual harassment in places of learning was an important issue, emphasising that men were also victims.

Omidiran said there should be laws prohibiting and punishing sex offenders in other institutions not just places of learning.

Yakubu Dogara, the speaker, agreed with the submissions and stepped the bill down pending consultations between both chambers of the national assembly.

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) had kicked against the bill, describing it as a violation of the rights of its members.

Biodun Ogunyemi, president of the union, had said this at a public hearing on the bill, organised by the senate committee on judiciary, human rights and legal matters.

The sexual harassment bill was sponsored by Ovie Omo-Agege, a Delta senator, and co-sponsored by 57 of his colleagues.

The bill seeks to criminalise sexual harassment in tertiary institutions and, among other things, proposes a five-year jail term for lecturers found guilty of sexually harassing of students.

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