LOUD WHISPERS: The Queen’s College Lagos Sexual Harassment Allegations: Five Lessons For All Of Us

Over the past three weeks, there has been a lot of discussion about sexual abuse and harassment allegations concerning a teacher at Queen’s College, Lagos and a student. I believe the case generated a lot of controversy because of the school involved – Queen’s College. This is a school that has traditionally been associated with the elite and powerful and their daughters who, by virtue of their pedigree and attendance of this prestigious school, go out into the world to become ‘Queens’ in their own right. Name the sector or profession, there is a QC Old Girl right there. So I can only imagine the dismay of my friends who are QC alumni when these allegations surfaced. The case is now under investigation by the appropriate authorities, so I will not dwell on the specifics of the allegations. I however would like to raise a number of issues for us to take forward as lessons from this case.

 

  1. We need policies on Sexual Abuse and Harassment in all our schools, from Primary to University.

Sexual abuse and harassment of female students in schools is very common. This sounds obvious, but I sometimes have the feeling that we do not take it as seriously as we should, and we would prefer not to think about it as a fate that might befall our own daughters. Girls are abused in schools all across the country, in rural or urban areas, regardless of how distinguished the school is reputed to be. The predators include teachers, fellow students and males who have one responsibility or the other in the school for example security officers. One of the greatest achievements African women have made in their quest for empowerment, has been in the area of education. Enrolment of girls in schools is at an all-time high, and in some areas, girls outnumber boys in school. This has come at a price. Whilst it is becoming easier to get girls into school, it is becoming more difficult to keep them there. This is why the strange practice of ‘Breast Ironing’ has taken root in nearby Cameroon. In order to prevent their young girls from falling into the hands of sexual predators, mothers resorted to hiding evidence of their daughters’ maturity by flattening their chests, hereby making them less attractive to men and boys. This is done by pressing hot irons or stones on a girl’s breasts till they flatten and do not appear visible underneath clothing. Sounds grotesque? Yes, it is, and this is what has now become standard practice in Cameroon and has also spread into the Cameroonian Diaspora. These mothers desperately want their daughters to stay on in school and not get pregnant and be forced to drop out or marry early, hence the introduction of this dreadful practice. Here in Nigeria, though we have not added this atrocity to our long list of problems, we do need to come to terms with the fact that if we want our girls to go to school and finish their education, we need to do a lot more than what we are doing now and stop playing the ostrich, burying our heads in the sand. A comprehensive policy on Sexual Harassment and Abuse would include provisions on a range of issues such as a Code of Conduct for relating with students, definitions of abuse, confidentiality, whistle blowing, due process for hearing allegations, victim support, prosecution and many other issues…

 

Full article in Loud Whispers cover final

 

Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a Gender Specialist, Social Entrepreneur and Writer. She is the Founder of Abovewhispers.com, an online community for women. She can be reached at BAF@abovewhispers.com

Copyright AboveWhispers.com
Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.abovewhispers.com as the source
As you engage, comment and discuss, Please abide by the in-house Code-of-Conduct  for Above Whispers Community. Thank you.

Sign up for Updates

12 Responses to LOUD WHISPERS: The Queen’s College Lagos Sexual Harassment Allegations: Five Lessons For All Of Us

  1. Ada Agina-Ude March 30, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    Sexual harassment in schools and the workplace is the most trivialised abuse of women’s rights. It is played down for many reasons that one would not go into here. The most worrisome is the belief that it must be a woman’s fault if she is harassed; it’s either she’s flirty or exposes her body. So, many victims would rather stay in denail.
    I think we should do for sexual harassment what we did for domestic violence – bring it out of the closet. When we know the actual rate, and the extent of damage it causes, then the workable solutions will come naturally, as we are witnessing with domestic
    violence.
    I feel pained any time a woman says “I cannot be sexually harassed, I’m not the type. ” It humiliates those that admit to having been harassed.

    Reply
  2. Patience I. Aderogba March 30, 2016 at 9:16 pm

    Well articulated piece, written in simple English with no drama and very much in line in the way I believe one should think. A problem was identified, analyzed and solutions proposed.
    Thank you for I fully identify with what you have written. I am an OG ‘Queen’ extremely passionate about my alma mata, deeply involved in activities there for many years. However, one statement is now resounding… I have actually never participated In the PTA of any of my children’s schools… Now I believe is the time to start. So many lessons have been learnt and we are still learning from this experience… Sad to say but I hope these lessons do not include self aggrandisement!

    Reply
  3. Aiki March 30, 2016 at 10:21 pm

    Thank you so much for the article. I hope the QC issue will inspire others to speak out. Sexual harassment is real – verbal and physical.
    I completely agree with all your recommendations and would like to reassure you that we are and will continue to fight for the rights of girl child and protection of our children at large

    Reply
  4. Olufemi Emmanuel March 31, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    In as much as i followed with rapt attention the harassment saga at QC. I want to believe that there is more to these issues that meet the eyes. one may ask these questions; why is the alleged mother in question not showing her face.why is the school authority protecting the alleged teacher. why should students carry placards. is the teacher the only teacher that can handle the subject and make them sore good grades. there is more to the issue of harassment. It seems there is a cabal and there is equally some set of people that are grief. All stakeholders must joined hands to curb the menace.

    Reply
  5. Jumoke Idowu March 31, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    Very good write up, pls we need a working child protection policy in all schools and all institutions that deal with children and children products, followed by a well rounded and inclusive gender policy in all institution and trained social workers, another policy on sexual harassment will be over duliplication of efforts.Introduction of child protection training or as part of teacher training curiculum is very essential. I am aware that a lot lagos state schools have a resident social worker ,i wonder how a whole queens college (federal school did not have or was not trained properly to step into this matter. Also NASOW needs to wake up and take a respectful and decent position in our society. thanks

    Reply
  6. Bunmi Alonge March 31, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    Spot on. Learning points very key and I do hope relevant authorities/stakeholders have noted these salient points.

    Reply
  7. Barbara Willis -Brown March 31, 2016 at 10:19 pm

    I am an old QC girl, under Mrs Cokers’ regime. She would have had the teacher’s balls on a plate. No man could ever have taken any liberty or step beyond boundaries. Children particularly boarders are very vulnerable. Need all the above mandated. Also a school rights bill. A good plan should be a student council liaising directly with old girls committee. Issues can then be raised without fear. Happy to help with draft if needed. I’m a social scientist.

    Reply
  8. Akinsoto Modupe April 1, 2016 at 9:36 am

    All of dem shd be prosecuted. Our sch managers shd be up and double effort to see to beefing up d existing security. God bless and save our girls

    Reply
  9. Yewande April 1, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    Thank God for people like the writer of this article who speak up on issues like this one. I am also an OGQC and in my first year at QC, Mrs Efunjoke Coker was the Principal. She was a very strict but motherly figure who was and is still very well respected in the Nigerian society today. In her time, no male figure, regardless of what position he held was allowed anywhere near the boarding house as she definitely would have had him castrated. In addition to the arrest of the said teacher, both the present principal and vice-principal should be suspended pending the outcome of the police and ministry of education investigations since they did nothing about this matter despite being well aware of the allegations. To be sincere, I believe they should be sacked as an example to other teachers and for them to realize the importance of the welfare of these children left in their care. They should not be allowed to work in any school within or outside this country as they have totally betrayed the trust of both the parents and students. Parents, especially mothers should learn from this incident and pay more attention to their children. They can start by spending more quality time with them and listening to what the children say and getting to know their friends and their background. This will go a long way to solving a lot of societal problems the children might encounter as they grow into adulthood. Women, please continue to speak out!

    Reply
  10. Tunde Adeleye April 1, 2016 at 4:18 pm

    Following the well justified backlash that greeted the child abuse scandal at Queens College, Lagos,
    I would like to make some salient recommendations in line with the ones espoused by the writer. I proffer these recommendations from the viewpoint of an ex teacher that has taught in the UK for several years, and now as an Educational Consultant in Nigeria.

    1. All teachers,  irrespective of gender, must not touch (as in place their hands casually ) on any student,  male or female.

    2. No teacher must have a closed door session alone with a student,  with no one else present in the room.

    3. No classroom full of students must be left unsupervised by a teacher.

    4. All incidents involving student versus student, or student versus teacher must be logged and documented immediately on an incident report form, pending the outcome of an investigation. Witnesses must be called to make their own written reports of what they saw, or heard. The incident report and logging must be done the same day the incident occurred with the time and date recorded.

    * Whistle-blowers who report an incident must not be punished or victimized.

    5. No teacher is allowed to intimidate a student, bribe a student or cajole a student to do what is morally wrong, especially against their wish. Their esteem must not be destroyed at this young impressionable age.

    6. During break periods, and end of school,  teachers are expected to be at strategic posts watching the movement of students and monitoring their safety.

    7. Apart from PTA meetings,  schools should organised termly session with parents called ‘Parents Day’. This affords parents the opportunity to ascertain from the class teacher, and indeed other teachers, how their ward is faring academically as well as any related concerns about their welfare.

    8. Students are stakeholders of the school. As a result, each year group must be allowed to elect a student representative (inclusive of school prefects) that will meet on a periodical basis with the school board to address any concerns the students may have. The students can also make suggestions to the school board on what can be improved in the school (i. e. School meals, School projects, etc).

    9. Periodical lesson observations (usually quarterly) must be done by Senior teachers for other teachers in the school. This is an important needs assessment based exercise that forms part of the key performance indicators (KPI) of a teacher.

    10. Lastly, several CCTV cameras must be mounted in school corridors,  playground, other prime spots within the school as well as outside the school premises.

    In addition,  a loud piecing security noise gadget must be installed in several locations of the school as well. In the event of a security breach beyond the control of the security guards in the school, the gadget needs to be activated to ward off the dangerous activities of intruders or criminals and to protect the health and safety of students and staff.

    Reply
  11. Dr Okey Ikechukwu April 4, 2016 at 6:07 am

    This contribution puts a few things in perspective for the reader. Above all, it is a call for action along the lines of sustainable individual a d societal steps towards the elimination of ‘enabling factors’ for sexual harassment.

    Reply
  12. Ebonychyqui2 July 11, 2016 at 8:29 pm

    Anyone found molesting a child should be imprisoned forever that’s my judgement.

    Reply

Leave a Reply to Aiki Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of new posts by email.