The issue of sex-for-favour is not new to man. It cuts across generations, nations, tribes, social status, races, gender and virtually all professions. In fact, within marriages, this ugly practice is also reigning. Sex-for-favour is embedded in human deprived and corrupted nature. The fact that people publicly condemn it, even though many indulge in it, at least secretly, is indicative of its moral perverseness.
Sigmund Freud (1905) believed that life was built around tension and pleasure. Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, in an attempt to explain this dilemma of man, opined “that all tension is due to the build-up of libido (sexual energy) and all pleasure comes from its discharge.”
However, Paul the Apostle, who was described by the Times Magazine as the greatest man of the first century, gave a more acceptable explanation when he zeroed the whole problem on human nature.
He said, “For I know that in my human nature dwells no good thing.” Thus, when the human nature is given full freedom to manifest without the restraining power of the law and the society, the experience will always be degradation of values and character.
The BBC Africa recently drew the hornet’s nest when it focused its search on sex-for-grades in selected universities. The purpose was to expose and discourage sexual harassment against ladies on campuses. The lesson is clear: lecturers, as fathers and mothers, are supposed to be role models to students and are expected to mentor the students.
They are expected to be more morally disciplined in every area, including moral issues. Sex-for-grades, a manifestation of the corrupted human nature, is a way of laying dishonest and dangerous foundation for leaders of tomorrow and it obviously promotes mediocrity. This development is believed to be common in our institutions of learning, both in Africa and outside.
Unfortunately, even though one of the mandates of higher institutions, especially universities, is to conduct research relevant to our collective development and progress, it is difficult to find any research on this issue of sexual harassment between lecturers and students in Nigeria.
There are questions beckoning for answers: How common is it in our universities? Is it only lecturers that should be blamed? Do female students have blames too? Are we sure that female students are also not very delighted to have godfathers among lecturers? Do female students harass or seduce lecturers too? Are female lecturers harassed too?
A lack of scientific research in our institutions may excuse BBC Africa for its lopsided approach to this issue. Their approach to this problem portrays a serious danger to our society. For example, in the case of Dr Boniface Igbeneghu, it used an immoral approach to solve an immoral problem.
The undercover agents were on the campus for nine months and could not get a single willing female student to cooperate with them to achieve their purpose. Rather, the only option left to the agents, after nine months, was to use deceptive means to set up a lecturer and call it ‘sex-for-grades’, instead of ‘sex-for-admission, which actually was not true.
It is difficult to conclude that the pretending agent did not use seductive means to give a wrong impression to the lecturer, thus making the indicted man a victim of seduction. Since the lecturer knew that he was not dealing with a student, and that the lady who claimed to be 17-year-old was obviously above that age, the lecturer could conclude that she was one of those city girls looking for something else.
This, to me, appears to be a poor job. The bad lesson the BBC is teaching our young ladies is how to use people to set up lecturers in order to revenge for whatever reason.
This is not to justify the indiscipline and the immorality of the lecturer. The question is that will the lecturer have done that if he knew the lady was a true student? The lopsidedness and unfairness in the investigation should be mentioned at this point.
The BBC Africa found it inhuman to show the identity of the agents and the witnesses, but see it as proper to show the identity of the lecturer to the international community. Why didn’t the uncover agents cover the face of the lecturer and expose the full video to the university management when actually the case is not sex-for-grades as captioned by BBC Africa? Or what do the undercover agents want to achieve by considering only the effects on the ladies but not the effect on the families of the lecturer?
To expose someone with his whole family to international ridicule under false pretense is inhumane in this context. Can the BBC do this to a Briton and go scot-free? If this pretense can be done by the undercover agent, then one can imagine what other gimmicks or dressing was used to bring the lecturer to his knees.
If the BBC Africa is sure of its nine months discovery, why were all the discovered cases not disclosed to the university to prosecute? The university has enough laws and penalty for sexual harassment cases and has zero tolerance for sexual harassment. If a scape goat must be brought to international ridicule to teach others lessons, diligent and truthful approach must be used to identify the right person.
The public comments to issues of sexual harassment are usually biased and lopsided and that cannot solve the problem. It is generally based on the assumption that only male lecturers harass female students. My experience as a male lecturer shows this is not always true.
Many female students do seduce, and voluntarily offer themselves to lecturers. In fact, many of them compete to know who can win a lecturer to their bosom and ‘overcomers’ always boast of their ‘achievements.’ Many weak-natured male lecturers, who lack strength of character, have kissed the lips of ‘Delilahs’ at careless moments when they allowed the flesh to take upper hand.
Women fighting for the rights of their younger ones and daughters often deliberately overlook the nude dressings of their daughters forgetting the seductive psychological effects on male lecturers. It is common knowledge that many female students have turned to prostitution on campuses and the women right fighters are often silent.
Just as ladies are sensitive to gestures from men, men are also sensitive to the offers, indecent and nude dressings of the female. Many men cannot understand why ladies dress almost naked to see them except that they are looking for something else.
In order to minimise the problem, laws and penalty for sexual harassment should take care of both sides. Women leaders should not only concentrate on fighting against sexual harassment, they should give proper home training and organise programmes and counseling that will make their ‘daughters’ not to depend on special favours from their male lecturers.
Generally, it is ladies with inferiority complex, lacking confidence in their abilities, unwilling to pay the price of excellence, or those having sexual weakness that find it difficult to resist any form of sexual harassment from male lecturers.
I heard one of the masked students accusing Dr. Boniface that he told her that after finishing with her, he would pass her to some other lecturers. Let us assume it is true, even though I strongly doubt a lecturer saying that to someone giving him pleasures, the lady must either be desperate for a certificate without working for it or may likely be a prostitute on campus. Has the lady herself lost every sense of self-worth and self-dignity?
In order to sanitise the system, the society also needs to look at the other side of the coin and work on female students to be more responsible. If they are not selling themselves to lecturers, they will be on the laps of sugar daddies in the night looking for gifts and money or you’ll find them messing up with fellow male students.
Many university administrations also pay lip service to arresting sexual harassments. Most of the university administrations cannot pretend to be unaware of those lecturers involved in such things. Apart from creating an environment for the harassed to appropriate channel with full confidentiality, university administrators should not be waiting for ‘strong evidence’, before such lecturers are counseled and properly warned. Mere warnings and counseling are enough to caution many randy lecturers. I have done that before and it worked.
This leads to the hypocrisy of many university administrators who failed to prosecute cases of alleged sexual harassment reported privately by students. This action makes students lack confidence in the system. Various universities have lopsided laws and penalties for sexual harassment without considering the law of “cause and effect.” Those laws should be updated and enforced because laws without enforcement are as good as dead.
Olaleru is Head, Department of Mathematics, University of Lagos and Editor in Chief, International Journal of Mathematical Analysis and Optimization: Theory and Applications