Sun. Jul 21st, 2024

By Maureen Okpe

The Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has sought partnership with HEIR Women Development in the fight against workplace sexual harrasment.

Team Leader, Constituency Project Tracking Group at the ICPC Mr. Akibu Garba, made the offer in his speech during a 1-day workshop tagged “Career Barriers and Workplace Sexual Harrasment Against Young Women in Nigeria”, organized by HEIR Women Development with support from Ford Foundation.

Garba reiterated that the commission regards sexual harassment as a corrupt practice, stresssing the need for victims to know their rights and how to seek justice if the menace must be eradicated.

He noted that the ICPC sexual harassment policy signed by it’s Chairman Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye is a zero tolerance policy for any form of sexual harrasment in its offices nationwide, with disciplinary actions clearly spelt out.

“The conversation about sexual harassment is apt , we have so many investigations and recommendations on how to address the menace in our own handbook on sexual harasment and we make new staff go through it because sexual harassment is too much and so we are collaborating with agencies and NGO’s to curb it.

“We regard sexual harassment as corrupt practice but victims has to know their rights and how to seek justice, and that is why we would like to collaborate with HEIR Women Development in this advocacy to ensure that this crime is completely eradicated,” he said.

Similarly, the Desk Officer, FCT Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) Response Team, Ngozi Ike, expressed concerns on the alarming cases of sexual harasment of women, regretting that most citizens do not understand what it means to sexually harass a woman hence, its prevalence.

“It happens everywhere in our society today and it involves unwelcomed comments and advances from opposite sex and even with same sex. Some people don’t understand what it means to sexually harass a woman that is why advocacy is important because it is a crime under sexual assault in the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act.

She therefore lauded the move by HEIR Women to curbing the crime, stressing also the need for high level advocacy and organizations’ having sexual harassment policies to make employees pledge to it before they begin work in order for culprits face the law if found guilty.

Meanwhile, the Country Director, Amnesty International Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, described sexual harassment in work place as a global menace which must be tackled, stressing also the need for safe spaces for women and girls at work in Nigeria.

Ojigho called on any organisations’ condoning the ugly trend to amend it’s practices by ensuring that they established a sexual harrasment policy that can give voice to survivors.

In her welcome address, the Executive Director (ED) HEIR Women Dev. Añuli Aniebo Ola-Olaniyi, decried the prevalence of sexual harrasment of girls and young women at work, saying this makes them unproductive and unable to contribute their quota to national development.

According to Ola-Olaniyi, the organization’s research in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on 1060 respondents consisting 1000 online survey and 60 in-depth interviews shows that 51% of women have been sexually harassed with 3 in 4 women raped at work and 13% of the respondents were women living with disabilities, while 78% respondents said bosses harass them sexually.

She called on the Cooperate Affairs Commission (CAC) to join the campaign against sexual harrasment of girls and young women at workplaces by delisting any organizations found culpable of the menace from the company house, just as she urged all stakeholders to also join the advocacy.

Highpoint of the workshop was the panel discussion with over six panelists including survivors proofer solutions to curbing sexual harrasment against women and girls, and the unveiling of a book tittled “More than just pretty” authored by the convener.

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