Flier for Roundtable Discourse with Theophilus

Discourse #2: Sexual Assaults, the UIte and the University of Ibadan

In the wake of disheartening stories of rape and sexual assaults, the seeming helplessness of victims in getting justice and the heated clamour for change, Semiloore Atere –  a student of medicine and the President of Asido Campus Network, University of Ibadan, Oluwadamilare Ajiboye – a student of law and the immediate past Editor-in-Chief of Law Press Organisation, and Moses Parish Akachukwu – a student of European languages and the President of the Association of Students of European Studies joined Theophilus Alawonde at the roundtable to discuss Sexual Assaults, the UIte and the University of Ibadan. The discourse touched on the concept of sexual assault, sexual assaults in the University of Ibadan, causes of sexual assaults in the University of Ibadan, the University’s provisions as regards sexual harassment, the Anti-Sexual Harassment Bill at the Senate, and potential solutions to sexual assaults in the University of Ibadan. This discourse is – first – an enlightenment – and then – a call to action.

Theophilus: Good day! Welcome to Roundtable Discourse with Theophilus. I’m so happy to have you join me the discourse. Before we venture into the discourse proper, do us the honour of introducing yourself.

Damilare: Hello, good afternoon, everyone. My name is Damilare Ajiboye, a 500-level student of the Faculty of Law, University of Ibadan. Thank you for having me.

Theophilus: Thank you, Damilare, for joining me at the roundtable.

Moses: Good day everyone. My name is AKACHUKWU Moses Parish, a language enthusiast and a 400-level student of the Department of European Studies, Faculty of Arts, University of Ibadan. Thanks.

Theophilus: Thanks, Moses, for joining me at the roundtable.

Semiloore: Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Semiloore Atere. I am in 400 level, Medicine and Surgery, University of Ibadan and the president of Asido Campus Network, UI. It is an honour to be here.

Theophilus: Thank you, Semiloore, for joining me at the roundtable.

Theophilus: It’s no gainsaying that now is one of the worst times to be a Nigerian; recounting the gory details of the past few weeks would be emotionally tasking. So, we would move on to how they affect us as students of the University of Ibadan. The discourse is to centre on Sexual Assaults, the UIte and the University of Ibadan. Let’s take it from the first key word: when talking of sexual assaults, what are we talking about? What passes as sexual assault or harassment? What doesn’t?

Moses: Sexual assault is a form of sexual violence, which consists of rape, asking for sex violently, male or female sexual abuse or the torture of a person in a sexual manner; even the use of sexual words that don’t sit well with the other person or that the person doesn’t consent to. It goes with doing the above mentioned things to another without the person’s consent or with the person being under a sort of influence, like alcohol or drugs.

Damilare: For me, every non-consented, unlawful and intentional contact with some sensitive parts of another person counts as sexual harassment. Non-consented because the person didn’t give approval for such. Unlawful because it was not a normal touch that occurs in everyday dealings, like a shake of one’s hands, and intentional because the person who did it had it in mind to arouse the other person or satisfy his/her own sexual urges. To know what doesn’t count as sexual assault is to determine the place of consent. Was consent given to the act? Is the giver capable of giving consent in the first place? If consent was initially given, was it later withdrawn? In all, freewill consent is the dividing line here.

Semiloore: To me, it is unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. The University of Ibadan has a sexual-harassment policy that defines explicitly and clearly what sexual assault and harassment are in University of Ibadan.

Theophilus: For one, I like the different approaches to the definition; it only tells that sexual assault is broad, broader than some people would be willing to agree. Going by these definitions, do sexual remarks, innuendos and cat-calling fall under sexual harassment?

Moses: I affirm, yes. A course mate who will always look at another and give sexual comments will tend to make the other person feel uncomfortable in class; the person will not focus on lectures. Some of these comments might make the person feel less of themselves.

Damilare: I think it does. As much as we all seek to wipe off sexual harassment from the society, things like these need to be taken away.

Moses: Exactly, I concur!

Semiloore: Yes, sexual remarks, innuendos and cat-calling are forms of sexual harassment, even in the UI policy. Sadly, what is lacking is enforcement.

Moses: Not that alone. Education and prevention too.

Theophilus: If consent is to be considered as very important, there might be issues with the scrapping of Aro — which when directed at female students, is largely a form of sexual harassment — because some ladies give consent to it. Would we then allow it to continue, provided the receiving party gives consent, or scrap it totally?

Semiloore: What’s Aro in the first place? I think defining it will let us put it in the right perspective.

Moses: Please define this, and in what context it is being used, as what I might have come to think of Aro, might not be what it is.

Theophilus: True. That’s why I had some words within the em-dashes. Aro is peculiar to male halls of residence; from the jabs thrown at a guy living on the floor above yours, to intermittent exclamations and laments meant to entertain, to the jabs and innuendos directed at female students. Aro covers a lot of things, but, sadly, what we have termed as sexual harassment is one of them.

Semiloore: Having said that, for example, because Beyonce agrees to Don Jazzy touching her, does that mean Yemi Alade has to agree to such? Does that also mean if Yemi Alade is offended by it and calls for action against such, it is wrong of her? It should not be cancelled just because Beyonce said yes?

Damilare: I think Aro, that is how it is known and done today, is a culture that has lost its validity and acceptance among many. When all that is done about Aro is giving remarks about the body of people and shaming passers-by, I think it should be stopped. The fact that some recipients like it, doesn’t mean we should make it a general attitude. In fact, there are cases of cultural practices that enjoyed general acceptance by the people, yet were abolished because of how bad they were (consider the killing of twins in those days. Both the kings and people thought it was right). Aro, the way it is currently, should not be a thing we do in the 21st century, especially in a university community. There is always a dilemma when something is done well and done wrong at the same time. The thing is, if people cannot bring themselves to stop doing the bad part of Aro, we might as well scrap the whole culture. Trying to keep it around by saying it is not entirely bad, would be difficult. How, for instance, would you determine when it would go beyond the acceptable limit?

Moses: I think I would take a bit of a different course. In the absence of law, there is no offence, and secondly, some laws might not favour you, but you will have to abide by them. I have come to learn that some ladies love the Aro thing. They even prepare theirs and lash back at the young men who throw shades at them, but some others do not.  Now, this deals with no physical abuse but psychological and emotional abuse, as some dread passing by male halls after classes. If the persons assaulted do not say this is bad, and we do not like it, it will be difficult for us to state a cancellation. Thanks.

Theophilus: But ladies have been voicing; there’s a campaign ongoing; one targeted at scrapping Aro.

Moses: Oh! really? Let’s have the Jambites come to write Post-UTME and you’ll see these advocates throwing Arò at them. Certain things are termed bad when they get at you but not at others; this is where the confusion lies. We are able to say No to Rape! because we are not being indifferent to its effects really? From my wild guess, a considerable number of those who speak against Aro are also involved.

Theophilus: Does that mean Aro should stay? Or, should the advocates be told that a call for the scrapping of Aro must be a total scrapping? I mean, should we still make moves to scrap Aro while telling the advocates that we are totally scrapping it; we are not leaving what sits well with you and scrapping what doesn’t sit well with you?

Damilare: I think I disagree with you, Moses. The fact that some people prepare and stage a comeback does not validate keeping it. Some people also do not see anything wrong with touching people’s body (to them, they are catching cruise), this does not mean we should validate it. When a public act has been diluted with both good and bad, I think we should do away with it if we can’t strictly stick to doing the good part. Also, if you have seen or been in an Aro situation, you would discover that talking back make things worse. Voicing that you don’t like it gives the doer the energy to continue.

Moses: Damilare, you got me very wrong. I was trying to showcase the indifferent nature of the whole thing. I tried to point out the pitch and the fall. Then, ended it with a silent call for voicing out. 

Semiloore: E joor! How will consent be asked oh? As Idia ladies walk through Indy Hall or as we return from our rehearsals or film shows at Wole Soyinka Theatre, passing by Kuti Hall? How is consent asked oh? Or in front of Bello Hall as we wait for cabs?

Theophilus: What I mean is: if some ladies’ consent to Aro partly negates its seeming danger, wouldn’t we have a problem scrapping it?

Semiloore: It doesn’t.

Semiloore: Recently, the Speaker of the Students’ Representative Council, Hon. Oluwaferanmi Omitoyin did a poll about Aro on Twitter. You guys need to see the comments.

Theophilus: 80% of the respondents want Aro to be scrapped.

Moses: Oh! I didn’t see that. Should be interesting and a part of this discussion. Now, this is where I was driving at. No one directs Aro at the other to make the other feel great. But the fact still remains: silent wishes and silent cries wouldn’t abolish them. Reason I will forever applaud the SRC Speaker for that survey.  The next step is to tender it out for a bill to be passed.

Theophilus: One of the fundamental qualities of a people that are really evolving is to know when some practices have outdone themselves, and do away with them. Sadly, the clamour for the proscription of Aro has met with a lot of rage from some male undergraduate students — especially because it has no known adverse effects on them. If we were to see to it that Aro got scrapped, what effective steps should be followed?

Semiloore: 1. Education 2. Awareness and Sensitisation 3. Punishment. 4. We also have to embrace mutual respect. Starting the conversation is a right step in the right direction; like we are doing now. If something feels off, we need to speak up; that it’s a tradition is not an excuse for it to be tolerated. So, we need to educate ourselves about this Aro. Does it foster mutual respect? Does it foster tolerance?

Moses: This is a factual end. This states it all.  If we have this, it is a scrap without a remaining. Talking about what hurts one in Aro doesn’t just include the bad comments, but also the seemingly right ones too. Example: When you are told how it is only book you know. You have done all the TDB, MTN… and because not just one person is saying or shouting it at you, but a cluster of boys or females, it might have adverse effects on you.

Damilare: I think what can take the place of Aro is gyration done by each hall. The relaxation and enjoyment said to be offered by Aro can be gotten there too. Plus, no one forces anyone to take place or be part of gyration. If anyone thinks they enjoy the remarks of Aro, let them voluntarily attend gyration and exchange the remarks. It saves us the outcry. If you attend and you are made the subject of annoying remarks, you simply take it in. This does not solve everything, but it goes a long way to help those who don’t want it and those who still want it.

Moses: Hmm, we might end up having someone commit suicide after attending gyration because such person wouldn’t be able to say “No!” “Stop!” “It is hurtful!” “I don’t like it!” Just because it was presumed you asked for it by coming. But one can attend gyration for other reasons and not just the Aro.

Theophilus: Isn’t that how Aro started out too? I believe it wasn’t negative at the outset — just like the Pyrates founded by Soyinka and co. It met with corruption as the years went by. If the idea of gyration to replace Aro is sold, won’t it eventually result in a more blown Aro in years to come?

Damilare: That an act would be corrupted is not something we can say factually. The point I am making is that Aro should be scrapped, but the attention of those who vehemently think it should stay should be directed towards gyration, since it offers a sort of relaxation and enjoyment without making a prey of passers-by. Now, directing attention to gyration would be a thing that would come with consent. You attend if you think you can take the fire. If it gets too hot for you, you leave. But, I believe Aro and everything that comes with it should be scrapped.

Semiloore: The University has a policy against Aro. This is not even a debate.

Moses: That’s great. I bet the majority doesn’t know about the School’s Sexual Harassment Policy. Can you bring it to our notice here?

Semiloore: The damage of negative remarks is far-reaching, especially if experienced at a young age. Moses mentioned how Jambites are harassed, for example; sexual harassment becomes normalised as ladies move through life. What are often discounted as “jokes” or “compliments” can have consequences for years, sometimes even a lifetime!!! Growing up with our bodies as constant fodder for public comment affects the way we carry ourselves, please! It affects the way we dress and the way we navigate our place in the world. It affects our rights to dignity, privacy and autonomy as human beings!!!!!! Enough is enough, ejoor.

Theophilus: I’m a firm believer in multiple approaches to solving a problem: so, just as Semiloore said, we should start having conversations about sexual harassment and assaults, we should also have laws recommended by the SRC to the school Senate; laws that punish offenders accordingly.

Theophilus: Let’s move on to the matter of physical sexual harassment. People have voiced out their concerns about issues of sexual assaults in the University of Ibadan; about places that are danger zones to students. What are your comments on these?

Semiloore: Hmm… Why is our university campus unsafe?

Theophilus: That’s a valid question.

Damilare: This is new question is also a matter of concern for everyone. I was reading a survey on sexual assault done in UI in 2014: of the 388 participants, 262 people said they have experienced one form of sexual harassment or the other. This shows that a whole lot goes on within the university community.

Theophilus: Yet, as Semiloore rightly pointed out, the school — through the Gender Mainstreaming Office — has provisions for these sexual assaults, including rape.

Damilare: On sexual assaults; there are still places in the school that are not yet lit up. To make matters worse, many of these places are normal routes you take to your destinations.

Semiloore: Safety and security should be a priority to both the management and also the Students’ Union and other student associations. I want to believe it is; however, I usually wonder why every corner on the school campus is not well lighted. Security lights everywhere… Is that too much to ask for? Semiloore: My take is: let’s light up UI.

Moses: Exactly. And they should have solar panels, so they can beam even during power failures.

Damilare: Still in that report (I will share the file later), over 66% of people have reported or told someone, but the thing is who are those being told? Of this 66%, 63.7% told friends only, while 1.4% told the authorities.

Moses: Hmm… I will like to use this opportunity to point out that in most cases, we call out for solutions when we can opt for prevention. At least, to a larger extent. The road behind the Catholic Chapel that connects it to Amina Way on one hand and to the Second Gate on the other hand – to me – is a no-go area at night. Anything can happen there at night.

Theophilus: Will it still be dangerous if security lights were installed and a security post stationed there?

Moses: Of course not.

Theophilus: That brings us to this question: does the average UIte know of the Gender Mainstreaming Office? If yes, why is the Office being left out of issues like this? Prior to this discourse, I had a chat with the Gender Mainstreaming Office’s Principal Investigator. She said the Gender Mainstreaming Office works closely with the University Health Services and the Security Unit — especially on rape cases. This means that there is the psychological approach from the Gender Mainstreaming Office, medical care from the University Health Services and a chance to prosecute the perpetrator if he/she is known. Yet, the Principal Investigator lamented that people scarcely seek for the Office’s services. Does that mean people are not getting sexually assaulted in UI?

 Damilare: The average UIte might not know. But then, beyond the knowledge of the existence of a gender mainstreaming office, there is still the silent culture we need to battle with. How many people would come out voluntarily to talk about sexual harassment? There is a lot to be done to ensure that we get rid of the silent culture in our society.

Semiloore: Many don’t know about the Gender Mainstreaming Office; they only see the billboard along the Faculty of Arts; the route going to the second entrance of the library. They also hold seminars, though. But I was oblivious of this as well. And, as regards people not being sexually assaulted in UI, the article Damilare sent states otherwise.

Theophilus: And, I think there’s the misconception of the aims and objectives of the Office.

Moses: The average Uite or person is ignorant of so many things, offices etc. around them, especially such things have nothing to do with him/her yet.

Damilare: The problem we have is that people are not talking. These things happen.

Semiloore: We have pointed out from the UI policy that Aro is wrong for example, yet, these things still happen. There are outcries on social media too. Who has been sanctioned? So, why will I go to the office? Generally, speaking up is a challenge, for fear of condemnation, unbelief and shame.

Theophilus: But, is one likely to encounter these at the Gender Mainstreaming Office?

Semiloore: Lol. To err is human… I believe the Gender Mainstreaming Office is aware of these challenges; what approaches have they made to create a safe space for victims? Friendly approaches to welcome victims? What about collaborations with student leaders?

Moses: If the Office has found out that students hardly come out to report, what have they done? Have they surveyed to know what the reasons are? What measures have they kept in place to see that students are aware of this Office? Is it too hard to ask each department to call a congress and pass this information across? Or, it is that hard to draft a WhatsApp message and send it out?

Semiloore: Exactly!

Theophilus: The average UIte cares less for offices and provisions the School has for him/her, so long as these offices do not directly cater for him or her; there are flaws in the Gender Mainstreaming Office’s approach, flaws causing friction; people are not voicing…

Damilare: I think we should be careful, so as not to use the attitude towards a general act as a precedent for an individual act. Aro is a public act which should be scrapped; doing this might take some time, because those engaging in it are not easily individually identifiable. But, issues of sexual harassment or rape are individual acts. Response to them should be swift, if we report on time.

Theophilus: That’s what I’m driving at; the Gender Mainstreaming Office would most likely not be able to intervene if they do not know of the cases. However, that doesn’t absolve the Office of what Moses and Semiloore have pointed out: if you have everything in place to cater for victims of rape and other forms of sexual harassment, yet victims are not coming to you for help, what have you done to resolve that?

Moses: I still repeat: we care much about solutions than we do for prevention. Until we lose a student through sexual assault and it is glaring, the Office might as well still sit down silently and wait.

Semiloore: But most times, we see the boys who engage in Aro, tho. The rows they call and all…

Damilare: There is an office in the Faculty of Law opened to women’s issues (Women’s Law Clinic). I have had to follow a person there before, and I must say that the approach was welcoming. The point is that many don’t know about this office; those who know don’t report issues.

Moses: You are right. But why do people not easily throw punches in U.I.? Because they know what an offence it is. When both the abused and the culprit know what it entails, everyone will be afraid to fall short.

Theophilus: This brings us to the question: if people do not know about the Gender Mainstreaming Office, yet its moves as an Office is dependent on their knowledge, shouldn’t you reach out?

Moses: I think if the Students Representative Council should liaise with these offices in times like this to bring their existence to the knowledge of students. Why does one advertise his goods and services? To reach cover more clientele and stay in their minds almost at all times. This should be the approach of these offices. I still repeat: The Students’ Representative Council should liaise with them as Students’’ Representative Council has a sort of direct contact with the student populace.

Semiloore: Does the Gender Mainstreaming Office have a helpline? Why can’t all student associations and halls of residence display or publicise it from time to time? Offices, many times, don’t work…

Damilare: I would sincerely expect such. Actually, before now, the only instances I had heard about the Clinic were during my faculty orientation and during the yearly discussions done under a tent at the International Conference Centre during UI’s convocation programmes. But now, I can see that the Clinic is beginning to get students involved in publicity. Some of my colleagues taking courses on sexual rights are now actively involved, but there is still a lot to be done.

Theophilus: That’s a move in the right direction; you have all stressed at one point or the other during the discourse, the importance of reaching students through their fellow students. I mean, a student would know what approaches to use in reaching his/her fellow students; it’s what we do almost every day.

Damilare: Exactly! At the forefront of the fight in the university are the students.

Semiloore: I think another factor that might contribute to these low reports is the low conviction rates. How many abusers have been convicted in Nigeria? Look at the statistics of that report above. Well, the social narrative surrounding rape is what scholars call the theory of secondary victimisation. Secondary victimisation refers to behaviors and attitudes of social-service providers that are victim-blaming and insensitive, and which traumatise victims of violence who are being served by these agencies. Please, I am not saying our Gender Mainstreaming Office is doing this. However, it contends that for many victims being exposed to victim-blaming attitudes (which is common in Nigeria), it will be akin to a second rape. Victims are in a space of extreme vulnerability immediately following an attack. Not only have their bodies been violated, but also their autonomy, humanity and sense of identity. That’s why I think a helpline is a great approach. Rape is one crime (if not the only crime) where a victim’s body is used as a weapon against them, and this alone is enough to inflict severe psychological harm. That’s why for many victims, secondary victimisation will then lead to self-blame, sexual revitalisation, promiscuity or low self-esteem; silence. The word rape or sexual assault may seem unapproachable after an attack, and they might cover up or hide the crimes against them or even defend their abusers.

Theophilus: Thank you! Having a helpline would also be a step in the right direction: victims most likely confide in close friends first, and it would help if the close friend knows of a number they can call in order to get help.

Semiloore: Yes, sir. That’s one of our aims in Asido campus network as regards mental health. To serve as to go persons to professionals. We also have a helpline people can call when they see signs and symptoms of mental challenges in their roommates, course mates, fellowship members etc.

 Theophilus: Also, I believe conviction rates in a community such as the University of Ibadan would be relatively higher than the average conviction rate in Nigeria. I mean, it’s the same UI where seemingly minor offences bring about punishment…

Semiloore: Abi oh… If I pour water from my floor in Idia or Queens hall; 1, 000 Naira fine, etc.

Theophilus: There’s also the case of sexual harassment by persons who are seemingly more powerful than the victim; lecturers and all. There is the Sexual Harassment Bill at the Senate too. Does the bill cover all it should?

Semiloore: Are we going to talk about that today? ASUU is stopping that bill with all their might; not my words, Kiki Mordi did a video on that…

Theophilus: We, as concerned people have to launch counter-attacks…

Semiloore: Semiloore left the group. Lol.

Theophilus: Something ridiculous – perhaps potentially effective – has popped in my head already: imagine thousands of people visiting the National Assembly’s official website weekly to click on the Contact Us form and remind the National Assembly of the bill that’s sitting fat, awaiting their final assent…

Damilare: The Bill before the Senate is going to go a long way, but would not address all issues. The Bill is to amend the definition of rape as contained in the criminal code.

Theophilus: The definition of rape in the Criminal Code is another thing entirely; like!

Damilare: There are so many things wrong with our laws on rape.

Semiloore: I have a question, Damilare.

Damilare: You can ask, ma.

Semiloore: Not having this bill, what are the consequences?

Damilare: There is an Act called VAPPA (Violence Against People Prohibition Act). This Act is the most comprehensive law on rape we have currently in Nigeria. But it only applies in the FCT and some three other states. Amongst other things, the Act provides that both gender can be victims or culprits. It provides other methods of penetration (anus, mouth) and covers instruments of penetration as well (not necessarily has to be with the male organ as explicitly stated in the criminal code), it also provides for psychological, financial and other help for the victim, but it only applies in some states in Nigeria. This is one of the problems; the law on rape applicable in many parts of Nigeria is not covering the whole matter.

Related post: Discourse #3: #EndSARS Protests, Lekki Massacre, the Government, the People and our Universities

Semiloore: I also want to point out another reason why I think the Gender Mainstreaming Office is not frequently visited, asides their low publicity.

Theophilus: Go ahead, please.

Semiloore: Sexual assault, most especially rape, is an incredibly personal crime and it is very difficult to prove. 8 out of every 10 rape cases occur between people who knew each other before that occurrence. It is called acquaintance rape (we can check it up please). So, contrary to what most people believe, most rape occurrences don’t happen in a dark gutter, a bush like in Nollyhood movies a secluded area on campus; most rape cases happen between friends, family members, co-workers, boyfriends and girlfriends, between lecturers and students, etc. I’m not saying that rape doesn’t happen in those places above, but most happen behind closed doors – just like so many other sexual violence cases – which makes them incredibly difficult to prove to the Gender Mainstreaming Office or any other agency, or in a court of law. This is why I said education is needed.

Moses: This is totally true. Most rape cases are between acquaintances. And, some ladies after consented sex, say they were raped, just to get back at the male partner because of something else. It is equally difficult to judge who was raped and who wasn’t, as some victims do not report immediately. I had a friend tell me, after so many years, how she lived in bitterness knowing her parents will never believe her if she told them. There is still much to be done on educating the students, giving them sure affirmation and reassurance. Imagine if a 17-year-old fresher was being assaulted by her Dean or Head of Department… having heard of how powerful such person is, what would she do?  Resort to silence; shy away from telling anyone. Why would she do this? Probably because she wasn’t aware of a law that is more powerful than this person or she has never heard of anybody of such calibre being prosecuted. Maybe she was even told by the perpetrator that he has done it countless times and gone scot-free; go ahead and report. Education, creation of awareness, helplines, surveys and investigations, perpetrators being brought to book, etc. must not be overlooked.

Semiloore: Even her mother might not believe her: “What were you doing there?” “Is it only you?” That sort of thing… She’d be scared to death. These things are so incredibly personal.

Theophilus: True. That’s brings us back to the importance of fully functional offices and organisations like the Gender Mainstreaming Office. They are expected to be — as you pointed out — safe spaces. A lot of them also have medical care in place for victims.

Damilare: If we continue with what we have, rape would be a gender thing and people would often get away with rape cases even when they get to court. For instance, Section 218 of the Criminal Code criminalises having or attempting to have unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under 13 years, and further prescribes life imprisonment and 14 years respectively. However, it went further to state that prosecution must begin within two months after the offence is committed. Considering what happens in Nigeria and the nature of sexual assault, gathering evidence that would be enough to prosecute the offender within two months is absolutely difficult. If the prosecutor is to meet the limitation placed by the law, he has to rush and may miss out important details (this would be very fatal to his case). If he doesn’t meet the timeline, what the rapist only has to do is to raise an issue of jurisdiction, and that’s the end of the case. Although the Children’s Rights Act covers this, but not all states have domesticated it too, especially in the Northern part of Nigeria where the Penal Code operates. This is just one instance; we really need to look into our laws.

Semiloore: Thank you very much. This is enlightening.

Theophilus: Let’s bring it closer to home: what change-bringing approaches are slightly compliant with the unending issues? I mean, we might be wary of doing anything at all if we keep thinking of the interwoven nature of the problems; however, what approaches would bring about considerable changes in the University of Ibadan, even in the face of the problems we have tabled?

Damilare: This is particularly important if we must move forward. What is necessary is for the Gender Mainstreaming Office to publicise what they do.  I think the Union of Campus Journalists should conduct an interview with the Head of the Office, publish it on its website and distribute it among its member-bodies in faculties and halls to also publish. Also, sensitisation is very important. We need to use students to reach students. We need to understand that no is no. The appropriate bodies too should work on their approach. Stop blaming victims, stop acting like it is all government’s work, have a welcoming approach and make sure that results are gotten each time, so that the victims would feel free to tell others about the nice work being done at helping victims.

Semiloore: If more than 60% tell their friends, then, a student-to-student approach should be adopted. What can I do if my friend is sexually abused? Everybody would know this. Also, a love culture should be embraced. We can’t build Rome in a day, but we can at least try to move forward. We need to do better; we need to be better, especially towards the most affected gender; the female gender.

Moses: As I said before, let’s go for preventive measures. Light up every nook and cranny of the University. Let the Students’ Representative Council take an integral part in creating awareness by liasing with the offices on ground.

Theophilus: This brings us to the end of the discourse. Thank you so much for joining in! It’s been three hours of factual dissections and insightful suggestions. Provided people want to reach out to you, sirs and ma, how best should they go about it? LinkedIn? Twitter? Please drop your details.

Semiloore: Thank you for having me. It was nice reading everyone’s view. Later this month, Asido Campus Network will be having a symposium on Sexual and Gender-based Violence and its Effects on Mental Health. I’d love and appreciate if you all attend. I’d send the registration link when it is out, to Theophilus. You can check out the last symposium at https://link.medium.com/3WnwpxDZ96. To reach me: Semiloore Peace Atere on all platforms or aterepeace@gmail.com.

Theophilus: Alright. Thank you for the invite.

Damilare: People can reach me on Twitter @jiboyedami or shoot me a mail via oluwadamilareajiboye64@gmail.com. Thanks for having me; the session was enlightening. Many thanks to the other contributors; it was a privilege sharing this space with you.

Moses: LinkedIn: Moses Akachukwu. Instagram: @Moses.parish. Mail: parishsaint07@gmail.com. Thank you Mr. Theophilus Alawonde for having me on this platform. It is an honour.

Theophilus: I cannot thank you all enough for dedicating three hours of your time to this discourse. May it get better.

Theophilus Femi Alawonde is a journalist, education enthusiast, polyglot and writer of things in no particular order of interest. A journalism-for-change agent, Theophilus has, in the past three years, charged himself to ensuring changes come about in the society, using various journaliatic media. He’s a student of the Department of Arts and Social Sciences Education, and the Editor-in-Chief of Indy Press Organisation. Reach him via alawondetheophilus17@gmail.com or 08169789450.

Leave a Comment