The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has called for the support of HEIR Women Development, a Non-Governmental Organisation, to tackle workplace sexual harassment.
Mr Akibu Garba, team leader, Constituency Project Tracking Group at the ICPC, made the call during a one-day workshop on “Career Barriers and Workplace Sexual Harassment Against Young Women in Nigeria”.
The workshop was organised by HEIR Women Development with the support of Ford Foundation on Monday in Abuja.
”The ICPC regards sexual harassment as a corrupt practice. There is need for victims to know their rights, as well as how to seek justice to put an end to the menace.
”The commission’s sexual harassment policy signed by our Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye has zero tolerance for any form of sexual harassment in ICPC offices nationwide,” he said.
Garba said the commission’s policy on sexual harassment, clearly spells out disciplinary actions that should be melted out on perpetrators of such acts.
“The conversation about sexual harassment is apt, we have so many investigations and recommendations on how to address the menace in our handbook on sexual harassment.
“We have a process where we make new staff go through it, sexual harassment is becoming worrisome based on its high rate, we are collaborating with agencies and NGO’s towards curbing it.
“We regard sexual harassment as corrupt practice and encourage victims to know their rights and how to seek justice when they experienced such social ill.
“We would like to collaborate with HEIR Women Development in this advocacy because this act has to be completely eradicated,” he said.
In the same vein, the Desk Officer, FCT Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) Response Team, Ngozi Ike, expressed concerns over the alarming rate of sexual harassment particularly on women.
She regretted that most citizens do not understand what it means to sexually harass a woman.
“It happens everywhere in our society today and this comes with unwelcomed comments from the opposite sex, as well as the same sex.
“Some people do not understand what it means to sexually harass a woman. That is why we need advocacy. It is a crime under the sexual assault in the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act,” she stressed.
Ike however lauded the move by HEIR Women Development in curbing the crime, saying that more advocacy is needed in this direction.
She recommended the need for every organisaion to have sexual harassment policies as a requirement which an employees must pass through before they start work in any organisaion.
She added that the move would discourage the act, and would make perpetrators to face the wrath of the law if they are found guilty in such act.
Also contributing, the Country Director, Amnesty International Nigeria, Mr Osai Ojigho described sexual harassment in work place as a global menace which must be tackled.
He called for the need to have safe spaces for women and girls at the work, adding that, any organisaion condoning such ugly trend must amend their ways of living now to avoid the wrath of the law.
Ojigho called on organisations to ensure they have sexual harassment policy in their various organizations to give voice to the survivors sexual harassment.
On her part, Mrs Añuli Aniebo Ola-Olaniyi, the Executive Director of HEIR Women Development, decried the prevalence of sexual harassment of girls and young women at work, saying this makes them unproductive.
She stressed that sexual harassment had made young women to be lazy and unable to contribute their quota to national development.
Ola-Olaniyi, said, HEIR Women Development conducted a research in the FCT on 1,060 respondents consisting of 1,000 online survey and 60 in-depth interviews.
She said the research showed that 51 per cent of women have been sexually harassed.
”Our research showed that three out of four women have been raped in their work place. 13 per cent of the total respondents were women living with disabilities,” she said.
She disclosed that 78 per cent of the total respondents stated that their bosses have harassed them sexually directly or directly .
Ola-Olaniyi called on the Cooperate Affairs Commission (CAC) to join in the campaign against sexual harassment as well as de-list the names of any registered organisaion found culpable of the menace from its database.
She also urged all stakeholders to join the advocacy against sexual harassment. (NAN)