According to a UNODC 2020 survey 41 % of both men and women think that ‘body currency’ – the exchange of sex in return for preferential treatment – happens very frequently in Nigeria. Another 30 % are convinced that it happens frequently. Most victims and survivors of sextortion (termed “body currency” in Nigeria) are unable or reluctant to speak out. The anecdotal evidence shows that in Nigeria, girls and women are sexually extorted when requesting basic services such as medication, positions while being recruited or good grades at school or universities.
The Nigerian universities, in particular, are considered as extremely abusive towards young women seeking education. In 2016, the Nigerian Senate introduced the “Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Education Institution Bill” as a strategy to criminalize various acts of sextortion in Nigerian tertiary institutions but it is yet to be passed into law. The lack of the whistleblowing culture, the lack of complaint channels and the wide-spread culture of impunity makes sextortion a common practice that is seldom reported and almost never investigated by law enforcement or university oversight bodies.
In view of this, CISLAC is currently implementing a project called “Sextortion” financed by GIZ as commissioned by the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany which aims to contribute to the fight against sexual exploitation in tertiary institutions in Nigeria. It has three (3) specific objectives which include:
- To create awareness amongst citizens, especially within select tertiary institutions on the issue of sextortion in Abuja, Lagos and Akwa Ibom State state.
- To create trusted electronic and physical complaint and reporting channels on sextortion to pursue psychological support and redress.
- To advocate for the passage into law of “Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Education Institution Bill” and strengthen compliance enforcement of existing laws and policies as a way to institutionalize criminalization of sextortion.