Sofadondo Advocacy Group, an NGO campaigning against Sex for Marks in the Nigerian education system, has called for the overhaul of Nigeria’s tertiary institutions to discourage the practice.
The group’s national coordinator, Ms. Hannah Etta, who is also a lecturer in one of the Nigerian universities, made the call on Saturday in Abuja during the group’s 2nd national conference.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the conference is “Sex for Brands and Brands for Sex: Establishing the Mantra of Change for National Growth and Development”.
Etta said the problem was like an elephant in the room, where everyone knew it was happening, but no one was talking about it.
She said the culture of silence had clouded most female university students in Nigeria, even some survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), and called for a change in the system.
According to her, Sofadondo is an advocacy group that vigorously campaigns against the threat of Sex for Marks, which amounts to an injustice in the system.
“This injustice is clear in society; why will anyone jump the hurdles of college writing exams and gain admission, where you are in the care of professors, but these people are the ones who will turn around to terrorize you, you victimize, threaten your life.
“Other students entering the University will also be influenced by the immoral behavior of the already existing students; we say no to these immoral activities in our institutions.
“These students instead of telling their parents, or reporting this behavior to the Vice-Chancellor, they succumbed to it, Sofadondo is saying no to this new normal.
“We say no to this issue, any victim should call us or visit our web page, www.sofadondo.org, send us a mail and we will intervene and see that the case is handled.
“We won’t name you, it will be unanimous, we will investigate the case, we have lawyers, investigators working with us as pro bono volunteers. The system must be disinfected.
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She also referred to the confrontation between the Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) and the federal government, saying that the Union was not just fighting for its course, but for the course of the students.
Etta said the system was so rotten that some students sat on the floor at some universities to receive lectures.
The Deputy Speaker of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, who was the speaker at the event, denounced the rate of sex for brands in Nigerian universities, adding that the threat is now rife in Nigerian institutions.
Omo-Agege, which was represented at the event by Mr. Patrick Okuneh, Legislative Assistant to the President of the Senate, said its commitment to gender issues in crafting effective legislation would not be misrepresented.
He called for a new awareness campaign to end the scourge of sexual harassment in Nigerian society.
According to him, the essence of university education is to expose students to new research and technology, to encourage creative independent thinking that could bring about positive socio-economic transformation in society, but students are exposed to something else.
He called on Nigerians to come together to end the negative threat.
Mr. Viktor Ikiriko, executive director of Talk Africa with Toyin Foundation, who was the guest speaker, said the company turned a deaf eye and a deaf ear, claiming to be unaware of the threat.
“Sex for promotion, employment, assignment and other purposes is a common feature of public and private organizations. Sex for Marks, the heart of our gathering today is as old as education itself in Nigeria.
“The reason it is now openly discussed is because our female students are becoming bolder, better prepared at home, as previously held beliefs of stigma and isolation have been thrown out the window.
“Our children today know that they will be treated as victims and not as lawyers. It gave them the impetus to speak out. The audacity of today’s students is also boosted by technology.
“Students today can very easily record conversations and even the actual deed to use as evidence when needed.
“The victims of sex for grades are mainly intellectually lazy female students, destitute female students, intellectually lazy female students, and very beautiful female students.
“These categories of students are often ready and willing prey for their predatory assailants who shamelessly feast on their innocent young bodies,” he pointed out.