Winking, hugging, other acts that constitute sexual harassment in tertiary institutions

The Senate, on Tuesday, passed the bill on sexual harassment in tertiary institutions after reading it for the third time.

The bill titled: ‘A Bill for an Act to prevent, prohibit and redress Sexual Harassment of students in tertiary educational institutions and for matters concerned therewith, 2019’, was sponsored by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, and 106 other senators.

The bill has 25 clauses and seeks to prohibit sexual harassment of students by educators in tertiary institutions.

The passage of the bill followed the consideration of the report of the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters – which was in charge of reviewing the bill and organising a public hearing on the legislation.

Here are what constitutes an offence in the bill:

It states that an educator commits an offence of sexual harassment where he or she:

(a) violates the fiduciary duty of care.
The bill mandates an educator to observe a fiduciary duty of care to every student by not exploiting a student or his/her relationship with a student for personal gains, sexual pleasure or immoral satisfaction;

(b) has sexual intercourse with a student or demands for sex from a student or prospective student; or

(c) intimidates or creates a hostile or offensive environment for the student by soliciting for sex from the student or making sexual advances towards a student; or

(d) directs or induces another person to commit any act of sexual harassment under the provisions of this Bill, or conspires with another person in the commission of sexual harassment by another person without which it would not have been committed; or

(e) grabs, hugs, kisses, rubs or strokes or touches or pinches the breasts or hair or lips or hips or buttocks or any other part of the body of a student; or

(f) displays, requests, gives or sends by hand or courier or electronic or any other means, pornographic or suggestive of explicit messages, whether by text, pictures or videos or other sex-related objects to a student; or

(g) whistles or winks at a student or screams or exclaims or jokes or makes sexually complimentary or uncomplimentary remarks about a students physique or stalks a student.


Students’ consent, not a defence

The bill lists conditions that make the above actions become offences.

It states that:

It shall be a defence that the educator and the student are legally married.

It shall not be a defence to any offence created in Clause 4 of this Bill that a student consented to the commission of the offence.

It shall not be necessary for the prosecution to prove the intention of the accused person or the condition under which the act of sexual harassment was carried out.


The bill recommends that:

Any person who commits any of the offences – acts of demanding sex, intimidating a student, directing or inducing another person to commit any act of sexual harassment, commits an offence and shall, on conviction, be sentenced to imprisonment for 14 years, or to a fine of five million Naira or both.

Any person who commits any of the offences – acts of displaying or sending sexual pictures or videos to a student, or making sexually complimentary or uncomplimentary remarks about a student’s physique commits an offence and shall, on conviction, be sentenced to 2 years imprisonment or to a fine of one million Naira or both.

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