By Chisom Chukwuma
TOWARD A SEXTORTION-FREE NIGERIA; UPHOLDING THE SEXUAL RIGHT OF WOMEN
Demand for sexual gratification in exchange for access to essential resources and opportunities is both an infringement of human rights and an obstacle to achieving Sustainable Development Goals in gender equality and transparent, sustainable governance _ Dr. Uche Igwe.
It is a common norm for sex to be demanded from women in return of one thing or the other. In 2018, the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University made the headlines but quite sadly for a wrong reason. A leaked video showed Prof. Akindele demanding sex to upgrade the mark of one Miss Monica. This to many does not come as surprise as Monica’s case is a tip of the iceberg to cases of sextortion in Nigeria. The only difference was that Monica did something exceptional by exposing Prof. Akindele.
The International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) in 2009 coined the word “Sextortion” with the aim of stopping the abuse of power through sexual exploitation and defined it as form of corruption in which sex is the currency of the bribe.
Sextortion does not only affect the physical and mental state of the victims but has been described as an obstacle to achieving development goal predicated on gender equality and transparent, accountable governance.
Sextortion in Nigeria is a coat of many colors. It is a culture in our tertiary institutions for lecturers to demand sex for grade. This shambolic act in the intellectual community led the National Assembly to pass “Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Education Institutions Bill” which criminalizes sextortion in the higher institutions but unfortunately, it has not been assented.
The entertainment industry is not left out. Many has attested to sex for role in the industry. In 2022, Halima Abubakar claimed that she quit acting because of producers demand for sex.
Sex demand for employment is in high increase especially given the country’s unemployment rate; the smoke of Satan has entered the sanctuary as Pastors now demand sex in exchange of blessing; women are subjected to sex demand before getting political appointment; on Social Media, People are blackmailed on daily basis. Through Women are mostly victims of sextortion, men also experience sextortion from women in authority.
Sextortion is not only a cankerworm in our society but abuse of human right which has been described as hidden pandemic that constantly dehumanizes the victims, cause self-harm and can even lead to death by suicide. Transparency International commented on how hard it is to prosecute sextortion under our current law. This is because there is no current legislature that criminalizes sextortion. The National Assembly must see it as a matter of urgent necessity to come up with a protective legal framework criminalizing sextortion of all forms. When this is done, the State Assemblies should follow by domesticating the law while the ICPC and the judiciary must be ready to walk the talk by not only prosecuting the perpetrators but rehabilitating the victims.
Also, all hands most be on deck in the war against sextortion. The National Orientation Agency and ICPC should engage in proper public enlightenment on sextortion and make available platforms victims can report to. Media Channels should follow suit. More NGOs should focus on creating awareness on sextortion like Devatop Centre for Africa Development is doing and encouraging victims to speak up (TALKAM) and report through their online platform. The awareness campaign should be extended to our primary and secondary schools, churches and assure the victims of protection as most times, victims are afraid to speak up over fear of stigmatization and punishment as in the case of universities were students are expelled for exposing their lecturers.
ICPC should conduct more research on sextortion and forms it is been perpetrated through collection of data in other to come up with more ways of preventing, creating awareness and prosecution. Sextortion is abuse of women’s right, women’s rights are human rights.