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The research is an investigation into the causes and effects of sexual harassment in Nigerian Institution of Learning: a case study of Federal College of Education, Zaria and its implication for counseling.  A review of relevant literatures was done and the feminist perspective and social construction theory served as the theoretical frameworks and empirical review was done. A survey research design was adopted for this research work and a total of one hundred and twenty (120) respondents participated, who were drawn using a random sampling technique across the various schools and administrative section of the college. A five-point likert-scale questionnaire based on the biographic data of the respondents, causes, effects and solutions of sexual harassment was used for data collection. Frequency distribution table and simple percentage were used to analyze and interpret the data. The result from the study reveals that sexual harassment is prevalent in our institutions of learning and that the female counterparts are more of the victims of such act and it is as a result of wanting to pass and have high grades, poverty, provocative dressing, exploitation of the students by the lectures among others. The counseling implications of sexual harassment was enumerated and some of the recommendations put forward on how to curb this act is that there should be a guidance counselor in all the institutions of learning to provide professional help and advice.


Title Page                                                                                                                                i

Declaration                                                                                                                              ii

Approval                                                                                                                                 iii

Dedication                                                                                                                              iv

Acknowledgment                                                                                                                   v

Abstract                                                                                                                                  vii

Table of Contents                                                                                                                   viii


1.0       Introduction                                                                                                    1

1.1       Background of the study                                                                                1

1.2       Statement of the Problem                                                                               2

1.3       Objectives of the Study                                                                                              4

1.4       Research Questions                                                                                         4

1.5       Significance of the Study                                                                               5

1.6       Scope of the Study                                                                                         5

1.7       Definition of Terms                                                                                        5


2.0       Introduction                                                                                                    7

2.1       Conceptual Framework                                                                                               7

2.1.1    Concept and Meaning of Sexual harassment                                      7

2.2       Origins of Sexual Harassment                                                            10

2.3       Types of Sexual Harassment on Campuses                                        11

2.4       Causes of Sexual Harassment in Nigerian Campuses                         18

2.5       Effects/Traumas of Sexual Harassment                                                          22

2.6       Sexual Harassment Prohibition Bill in Tertiary Institutions               29

2.6.1    Sexual Harassment according to the Bill                                                        29

2.6.2    Who can run Afoul of the Law?                                                                     30

2.6.3    When will the Offence of Sexual Harassment Arise?                                    30

2.6.4    Criminal Penalty for the Offence                                                                   31

2.7       Reactions of Lecturers, Parents and Students on the Bill                  32

2.8       Theoretical Framework                                                                                               33

2.9       Empirical Review                                                                                                        36

2.10     Proposed Steps to Follow in case of Sexual Offences or

Harassment on Campuses                                                                               38

2.11     Summary of the Chapter                                                                                 41


3.0       Introduction                                                                                                    42

3.1       Research Design                                                                                                         42

3.2       Population of the Study                                                                                              42

3.3       Sample and Sampling Technique                                                                    43

3.4       Reliability and Validity of the Instrument                                                     43

3.5       Procedure for Data Collection                                                                        43

3.6       Procedure for Data Analysis                                                                           44


4.0       Introduction                                                                                                    45

4.1       Data Presentation                                                                                            45

4.2       Data Analysis                                                                                                  45

4.3       Summary of Findings                                                                                     46

4.4       Discussion of Findings                                                                                               56


5.1       Summary                                                                                                                     58

5.2       Conclusion                                                                                                                  58

5.3       Recommendations                                                                                          59

5.4       Implication for Counselling                                                                            60

5.5       Suggestions for Further Studies                                                                     62






Sexual harassment in educational setting and workplaces (formal and informal) in Nigeria and other parts of Africa, has in the last two decades received local and international attention and condemnation but it remains the least understood, documented and focused on. All forms of violence, policies and legislation against it are yet to be put in place. Sexual harassment includes jokes directed at women and girls, catcalls to embarrass them in the public places and sexual assaults and violation in place of training or work. This violence against women by men is widespread and may take physical, verbal, psychological, economic and other forms that women and girls are subjected to in varying situations.

An identified barrier to understanding and confronting sexual harassment in educational setting in Nigeria is the absence of reliable information and inadequate documentation of the nature and extent of the problem. It has sucked deep into what remains of the Nigerian fluid. Indeed, the very endemic nature of this scourge threatens to wipe off any vestige of our moral fiber as Nigerians.

Sexual harassment is extremely widespread it touches the lives of 40 to 60% of students in colleges and universities. Sexual harassment can be devastating. Studies indicate that most harassment has nothing to do with “flirtation” or sincere sexual or social interest, rather its offences are often frightening and insulting to women. Sexual harassment does not occur because women dress provocatively or initiate sexual activity in the hope of getting promotion, grades/marks, pass examination, or advancing their careers. Researchers have shown that victims of sexual harassment vary in physical appearance, types of dress, age and behaviour. The only thing they have in common is that over 90% of them are female (Osuji, 2002).

Sexual harassment on Nigeria’s campuses appears to be under-researched and less checked (Amolekun, 1989). The concept of sexual harassment is relatively new; the term wascoined in the 1960s and it existed prior to the 60s, but people had no way of talking about it since there was no term by which to name the experience. This topic has drawn a great deal of interest from academic scholars, studying sexual harassment, who are often working at cross purpose with legal scholars. The traditions, methodologies, assumptions and conclusion of academic scholars are different from those used by legal scholars. Feminist scholars in particular agree that the legal systems, being male dominated, does not understand, or honour the perspectives of women who have been harassed.

According to Gowen, (2001) in Brandergurg (1982), the problem of sexual harassment has received the attention of scholars from a variety of life domains because of the scourge seems to be an issue of immorality that has no regard for individual status, religions affiliation, wealth, education, or development of countries across the globe.

The Commission on the Review of Higher Education in Nigeria (CRHEN) 1991 suggested that the phenomenon is gradually assuming critical dimension in Nigeria’s higher education. There is no published university or college policy prohibiting sexual harassment or student’s sexual relationship at these institutions. Nevertheless, the absence of policy guidelines on sexual harassment cannot be construed that the institutions are permissive of the act, or that institutional environment is devoid of harassment.

According to Ladebo (2001), this contention issue came to the fore in 2001, when the then, president General Olusegun Obasanjo in apparent disregard the protocol during an official engagement, ridiculed the Nigerian University lecturers for being unproductive pleasure and those who see the female students as sex objects for self gratification. The insulting words uttered by the president regarding academics, evoked serious debates from the public, as well as device counter accusation from individual’s academics and collectively as a union professor Soyinka (2014) called for the establishment of women and gender studies departments in Nigerian universities, in order to engender serious research and studiesthat would identify and analyze the specifies of the Nigerian context within the global structure, saying, “women in various parts of the world are making phenomenal contributions in different disciplines.

The law against domestic violence is not very strong against men that assault women or their wives. For instance, section 360 of the criminal code provides that “any person who unlawfully and indecently assaults a woman or girl is guilty of a crime, and is liable to imprisonment for two years.


Teachers or lecturers hold position of trust, they are expected to design teaching programmes and carry out teaching duties to help students develop as mature thinkers. This may involve close working relationship in tutorials or laboratories, individual meetings to discuss projects or essays as well as casual occasions for the intellectual give and take. Campuses are places where students learn and acquire knowledge of different kinds. The role of the teachers is multifaceted, including serving as intellectual guide, counselor, mentor and adviser; the lecturers influence and authority extend far beyond the classroom. In campus, students interact freely with their colleagues and look for advice and information from them, in one way or the other. Every student of higher institution passes through in campus life in one way or the other. In real life situation, campus is never a place where vices are inculcated but rather a place where knowledge, skill and experience are acquired by students, there is also a strong tie that bounds the lecturers and students just like father and son or daughter. In recent times, studies have emerged to address the social problem of sexual harassment in work settings in Nigeria, but literature on its endemic nature inacademia, where moral excellence is expected to be taught, imbibed and displayed is very scanty.

Today the boundaries between intellectual development and personal life may become blurred in this situation, some academics easily move from intellectual to personal and to sexual relationship. Much damage occurs because of the betrayal by someone that the students trusted and respected. Moreover, seduction attempts, which are masked by pretense to academic and personal attention, are particularly damaging because the student feels complicit in their own abuse. In recent years there has been controversy over even consensual sexual interactions between students and teachers especially within the last decade. The relationship between a teacher and a student is very much like that of a parent and a child.

However, it is this parallel that many say is the reason teacher-pupils sexual contact and relations are immoral because they are too closely akin to insert and similar long time damages can result. Today, campuses in Nigeria have changed from its real meaning because of the vice practices therein, among which is sexual harassment. Over the years, female students and some male students report instant cases of sexual harassment that occurs in the campuses. Many lecturers tend to maltreat their students sexually, while students-students sexual abuse is also rampant, lecturer-to-lecturer sexual harassment cannot be overemphasized, this also applies to other non academic staff in the campus.

Research has shown that simply ignoring the behaviour is ineffective. Harassers generally will not stop on their own ignoring such behaviour may even be seen as agreement or encouragement. There are special risks in any sexual or romantic relationship between individuals in inherently unequal position and parties in such a relationship assume those risks on campus context, such position includes (but not limited to) teacher and student, supervisors and employee, senior faculty and junior, mentor and trainee, adviser and advisee, teacher assistant and student, coach and athlete and the individuals, who supervise the day-to­day students living. Because of the potential for conflict of interest, exploitation, favoritism, and bias, such relationship may undermine the rear or perceived integrity of the supervision and evaluation provided and trust inherent particularly in the teacher student context. They may, however, be less consensual than the individual in whose position, confer powers or authority believes. The relationship is likely to be perceived in different ways by each of the parties to it, especially in retrospect.

Sexual harassment in Nigerian campuses is an age long vice, which has not been given concentration in our higher institutions of learning until this recent time.  It is based on this, that the researcher intends to critically look into the problems such as undesirable failing of students by the lecturer, witch-hunting of students especially females, embarrassment of the students in the class and calling of unwanted names, the causes and effects of sexual harassment in Nigeria Institutions of Higher Learning (a case study of Federal College of Education, Zaria) and to be able to proffer solutions and ways on how this menace that is engulfing the institutions of learning in Nigeria can be curbed.


The main objectives of this study are as follows:

  1. To understand the concept, meaning and causes of sexual harassment on campuses.
  2. To critically examine the types and effects of sexual harassment prevalent on campuses,

iii.       Proffer solutions and make recommendation on how the menace of sexual harassment could be curbed on our campuses in Nigeria.


Against this backdrop and due to the lack of universal agreement on the factors affecting sexual harassment, this study is set to address the following research questions:

  1. What are the causes of sexual harassment in Nigerian Institutions of Higher Learning?
  2. What effects does sexual harassment has on those that fall victims of such vice?

iii.      Are there measures put in place by both government and the school for checkmating such act?



It is envisaged that this study will be of value to various stakeholders in education in the following ways:

  1. This study will be of value to academic lecturers, sex educationists, sex education administrators, counselors, psychotherapists, and policymakers because it will enable them to develop more useful policies and strategies for curbing and preventing the menace of sexual harassment on institutions of learning in Nigeria and on the economy as a whole. Besides, the findings of this study may also assist these stakeholders in gaining an in-depth understanding of the factors that make victims more vulnerable to sexual harassment on campuses in Nigeria.
  2. The outcome of this study will service as a useful guide for both male and female students on campuses as it may help them understand the dynamics of campus sexual harassment and gain insight into making informed decisions that may assist them in shunning all form of acts that may cause stigmatization or actions that may make them victims of sexual harassment in our institutions of learning in Nigeria.

iii.      Finally, the findings of this study will contribute to knowledge and existing literatures on sexual harassment study and may even provoke additional research interests on the parts of the upcoming researchers on sexual harassment issues.


The scope of this study covers sexual harassment in Nigerian institutions in terms of examining its causes, effects and proffering solutions to the menace in our institutions of learning. Due to the constraint of time and paucity of financial resources on the part of the researcher, the study has been delimited to all degree students in Federal college of education Zaria affiliated to Ahmadu Bello University and Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto.


The following operational definitions and terms as perceived by the scholars have been adopted in this study:

Campus                      Is traditionally the land on which a college or university and related institutional building are situated. Usually a college campus includes libraries, lecture halls, residence halls, students’ centers or dining halls and park-like setting.

Sexual                         Is any physical activity of sex (Oxford Learners Dictionary, 2001).

GBH                           Is the acronym meaning Gender-Based-Harassment, which is an unwelcomeconduct, directed at an individual or group because of their gender, but does not involve behaviour of sexual nature.

Harassment                Is any form of unwanted sexual behaviour or comment which has a negativeeffect on  recipient and  which  includes GBH,  sexual  assault,  abuse andHomophobia            (Dekock,2000).

Sexual harassment: unwelcome sexual behaviour; requests for sexual favours, verbal visual or physical conduct of a sexual nature that is offensive, inappropriate, and/or unwanted sexual attention.

Sexual agency:           the power to choose and control one’s sexuality.

Sexual risk management:      the communication of clear definitions of acceptable standards of behaviour, treatment of all sexual harassment as serious matters and steps to prevent subsequent offences.

Homophobia: Is the irrational hatred or fear of homosexuality usually associated with hostility and sometimes violence (Ibid 2000)


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