OrderPaperToday – Senator Uche Ekwunife stirred controversy on the floor of the Senate today following her comments on sexual violence against female domestic servants, popularly referred to as “house girls”.

While contributing to the debate on the Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Institutions Bill today, Ekwunife said sexual harassment transcends tertiary institutions, citing examples of men who recruit female domestic staff and convert them to “sex machines”.

She, however, caused a mild drama when she added that her male colleagues know what she is talking about.

According to Ekwunife, “What happens to women is not something we can sit on this floor to talk about. It just does not only happen in tertiary institutions, it happens everywhere, house girls cannot even come out to talk about what they face in the hands of their masters.

“The law should cover all manner of sexual harassment, whether it is in the tertiary institutions or in the private sector, in the mosque or church. We have to address this holistically because women are suffering so much in the hands of men, and I have not seen where a man has come out to say a woman sexually harassed him.

“Some men will bring in house girls in the name of serving domestically but they end up as sex machines. I know men in this chamber know what I am talking about.”

Her comments led to murmurings on the floor for several seconds before the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, intervened and seemingly rose to the defence of his male colleagues when he stated, “No man in this chamber understands what you are saying.”

Without taking back her words, Ekwunife added, “I am just trying to say this thing (sexual harassment) happens everywhere.”

She then called for the harmonisation of different legislations that deal with different types of sexual offences.

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Damilola Zebulun Adeniran
Damilola is a multiple award-winning Writer, Researcher, and Community/Sustainable Development Practitioner. His interests and experience span across media, academics, human capital development, and strategic planning. Damilola is a Paradigm Initiative Digital Rights and Inclusion Media Fellow. He is the first Nigerian in history to win the blog4dev writing contest organised by the World Bank Group. Also, Damilola's writing on violent extremism and sustainable peace in Nigeria won a PeaceWriteNow prize, presented by the Embassy of Ireland in June, 2018. His works have been published in Nigeria and the United States of America, in English and in French. Damilola has also attended important meetings within and outside the African continent including the 2019 Spring Meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington D.C, USA. He was also a special guest on a panel discussion titled “How creative industry can help to stem fragility,” which was held at the headquarters of the World Bank in Washington, D.C, USA. Furthermore, Damilola was selected as a Champion of Advocacy against extreme poverty and preventable diseases by ONE Campaign in May, 2019. An alumnus of the prestigious Lagos Business School and Federal University of Technology Akure, Damilola Adeniran represents Nigeria in the Youth Transforming Africa Program.

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