#2019NBAAGC: Speakers, Conferees take Stand Against Bullying, Sexual Harassment
For many women and girls, the workplace can seem like a battlefield – no thanks to discrimination on the basis of gender, especially when it comes to jobs, educational and career opportunities, and sexual harassment. Harassment – which in many cases leads to rape – is a modern scourge affecting millions of women worldwide, but is hardly reported.
One of the breakout sessions on the second day of the 2019 annual conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) was an attempt to define the conversation on harassment, bullying and rape with a view to leading the charge against the scourge, especially as it affects female legal practitioners.
The session was moderated by Asue Ighodalo, the former chairman of the NBA’s Section on Business Law (SBL), who was assisted by a formidable panel that included Chief Assam Assam, SAN Principal Partner, Lex Fori Partners; Anulika Osuigwe, a legal practitioner; Ogaga Emoghwanre, Principal Partner, Ogaga Emoghwanre & Co., and Mia Essien, SAN, Managing Partner, Principles Law Partnership and chairman of the NBA’s Section on Legal Practice. The President of the International Bar Association, Horatio Bernardes Neto was a notable presence on the panel, as he was billed to launch the IBA’s Report on Bullying and Sexual Harrassment in the course of the discussion – which focused on the reasons for the scourge, and what targets of harrassment should do to protect themselves (or what the victims should do in the wake of an incident of bullying, harassment or discrimination.
The discourse threw up a number of questions such as:
- Are we (Nigerians) by nature a permissive people? Or is bullying and sexual harassment a product of poverty?
- Is the propensity towards bullying and harassment a symptom of mental illness?
- Is sexual harassment simply a game of power and control – especially between superiors and subordinates (and between lecturers and students in educational institutions)?
- Whom do you complain to (if you’re a target or a victim)?
Some of the recommendations were as follows:
- Don’t be an enabler (if you’re a target); don’t encourage your objectification or that of other women;
- Begin a mapping of behavior pattern on the part of the predator (if you’re a target);
- Gather evidence (if you’re a victim). Remember Monica Lewinsky’s blue dress?
- The NBA should henceforth play a front-running role in the battle against sexual harassment and bullying.
In launching the IBA Report on Sexual Harrassment and Bullying, President Neto describes harassment (and the rape that often accompanies it) as an act of cowardice. He stressed the need for a body such as the NBA to develop a written policy, signed on to by all stakeholders, expressing zero-tolerance for the practice.
See photos below:
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