LAGOS State University (LASU), in partnership with Aston University, Birmingham UK, has held a symposium on Preventing Sexual Violence on University Campuses in Nigeria: A Case Study of Universities in Lagos State, funded by the British Council’s Going Global Partnership programme.
While speaking at the event held on Monday, November 6, 2023, at the Makanjuola Hall, LASU, Dr Olawunmi Oni-Buraimoh, an Associate Prof. in the Department of English at Lagos State University, Lagos and Lead Researcher, Nigeria, highlighted the objectives of the project.
They include identifying the extent to which the Universities have followed up on the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPP), and whether this has impacted State Universities compared to the Federal Universities and understanding the experiences, regarding safety and inclusion, of students and staff on the campuses of Universities in Nigeria through a survey and focus groups (short term).
Others include using the learnings from earlier stated objectives to create a mentoring and training scheme for students and staff that aims to address sexual violence on University campuses in Nigeria (medium term), assessing the effectiveness of the mentoring and training scheme created in the aforementioned objective (medium term), and sharing the findings and resources created during the project with policymakers and Universities across Nigeria and in the UK (long term).
Speaking on the expected impact (benefits and losses) of the project on men, women, and other genders, Dr Oni-Buraimoh said: “Our approach is beneficiary-led and does not rely on external data. Our project plan included the collection of data on the incidence, awareness, and policies around safety on university campuses.
“The data were collected from students, staff, and all relevant stakeholders, such as senior leaders and policymakers. In this way, the educational materials and support mechanisms that we designed are fully informed by key stakeholders, i.e., women.”
Meanwhile, some benefits of the project include the empowerment of the victims of misogyny, sexual violence, or other discriminatory behaviours, the existence of penalties for the perpetrators as written in the related acts/regulations, women (and men) on university campuses feel safer because of policy, procedure, and support mechanisms, all students and staff are aware of the impact of misogyny, sexual violence, and discriminatory behaviour, and understand how to challenge these behaviours through allyship and mentoring, and specific mentoring and training materials will be developed that can be shared widely with universities in Nigeria and the UK.
On her part, Prof. Hannah Bartlett, the Pro chancellor of Aston University, Birmingham and Principal Investigator, UK, said: “The Aston University team supported with ethical approvals ensuring that the research is carried out to UK equivalent standards of ethics and research and integrity. She then appreciated everyone present and urged students and staff to maximise the avenue the symposium creates with the launching of the PSV website.
Earlier in her welcome address, the Vice-Chancellor of Lagos State University, Professor Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello, represented by the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Professor T. M. Salisu, charged staff and students of the institution to be catalysts for change in society and create a world free of sexual violence.
On his part, the Head of the Department of English, Prof. Pius Akhimien, affirmed that the objective of the symposium is very dear to the heart of the university, and the department equally frowns at gender-based violence.
He further added that “…the department will build an environment where both genders can reach their full potential and not be subjected to any form of gender discrimination or oppression. The department will also adopt relevant measures from the symposium, for the University's implementation.”
The symposium was hosted by Fayo Buraimoh and Mosunmola Itajobi, 300-level students of the Faculty of Communications and Media Studies, LASU.
The highlight of the event was the launch of the PSV website to accommodate willing mentors and mentees across Nigeria and the UK.
Dignitaries present at the event include Deputy Researcher, Dr Abayomi Bello, Dr Akoro Seide (Associate Partner from LADUSTECH), Dr Taiwo Conde (Associate Partner from Pyramid Education), representatives from the Ministry of Tertiary Education, Mrs Adeola Aderemi and Mrs Idowu Olapeju, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Professor T. M. Salisu, University Bursar, Mr Babatunde Olayinka, Former Vice-Chancellor of Fountain University, Osogbo, Prof Ahmidu Sanni, Mrs Paulina, and Dr Bashiru Animashaun.
Others include Dr Modupe, Mr Modupe Akinola (Publisher, Alimoshotoday.com), Dr Idowu, Dr Olawunmi Macualay-Adeyelure (Philosophy), Dr Mbisike (English), Prof. Henry Hunjo (English), Anne Adidu-Lawal (Baobab Human Rights Organisation), and Prof. Omolola Ladele (English), among others.