Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Senator Ekaette's speech

Below is the transcript of Nigeria's answer to Mary Whitehouse, Senator Ekaette's speech to the Senate last week. All spelling and grammatical errors are in the original.

Lead debate on the Bill for an Act to Prohibit and Punish Public Nudity, Sexual Intimidation and Other related offences in Nigeria


By Senator Eme Ufot Ekaette, MFR

Restoring Human Dignity

Mr President, Distinguished Colleagues, I sincerely express my appreciation for this honour to lead the debate on the general principle of the Bill for an Act to Prohibit and Punish Public Nudity, Sexual Intimidation and, Other Related Offences in Nigeria. This bill was read the first time in this Chamber on the 17th October 2007.

Over the years, I have watched helplessly as our society degenerate from a community of people with very high values, morals, self-esteem/respect, dignity of the human person, upright family values/upbringing etc to a state of near-madness, collapse of moral values, tolerance of immorality and all forms of decadence of social ethics which uphold the dignity of the human person. I am happy that now, GOD has given me the golden opportunity to steer the partnership with you, Distinguished Senators, on the project for the RESTORATION OF HUMAN DIGNITY.

As a woman and a mother whom God Almighty has given special privileges, I have tried at every opportunity to emphasize a regeneration of societal moral values which guarantee dignity of manhood and indeed womanhood. Religious organizations day after day have preached and reiterated the need for the obedience to the laws of the Almighty God particularly with respect to public decency. Yet what we see every moment is a total negation of the injunctions as contained in our Holy Books.

Recently, we have received reports of arrest and harassment of females and males on account of indecent dressing by our security agencies. While we cannot condone acts of jungle justice, we appreciate the near state of madness to which public lewdness has attained. Today, even the most disciplined Clergyman could have his/her conscience polluted by acts of indecent dressing or public nudity in every place in our society. The hearts and thoughts of our young men and women are polluted also with images and scenes of public lewdness at everywhere we do turn to, such that at every minute, they are seduced and have to battle with reflections of obscenity in their mind.

If the prevalence of public nudity is allowed to completely annihilate our age-long values of very high morals, we would be forced to all wear iron jeans trousers with padlocked belts to avoid being raped or sexually assaulted. God forbid!

In my desperation to find a redress for these moral decadence, I was forced to examine the laws of various advanced democracies of the world and other highly religious nations. The laws of the United States of America, the Great Britain, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Israel, Germany, India, China, etc. It was surprising to note that all these countries have laws prohibiting and punishing public nudity or lewdness. For example, there exist in the law of the various countries status which prohibit lewdness and public nudity viz:
a. Public Lewdness and Indecent Exposure Act in Texas, Dallas – the USA;
b. Public Lewdness (Class B) Misdemeanor (State of Florida)
c. Offences against Public Sensibilities (New York City Penal Code 241)
d. Prohibition of Public Lewdness Statute (India)
e. Offences of Public Lewdness and Indecent Exposure (England)

The Bill we are considering today, contain clauses directly lifted and blended to suit our peculiarities. I took the pains to examine our laws and penal codes in force, and I could not find a prohibition or punishment for the social crime such as public nudity, public lewdness or nakedness. As the saying goes, where a practice is not prohibited, those who engage in the practice have not erred. Because there is not law against public nudity, public lewdness or public nakedness in Nigeria, people could decide to go naked in the name of fashion. This law is not intended to do any new thing; rather it is intended to arrest the ugly situation of public nakedness that we have all condemn. Let us please pas the law.

I have had to stop and think very soberly on the implication of this Bill on our Constitutionally guaranteed human rights – our right to personal liberty and all other fundamental human rights. However, I discovered very interestingly that we stated unequivocally at the beginning of the preamble of our Constitution 1999 as follows:

WE THE PEOPLE of the Federal Republic of Nigeria:
HAVING firmly and solemnly resolved:
TO LIVE in unity and harmony as one indivisible and indissoluble Sovereign Nation UNDER GOD….

We are a people under God Almighty; we should therefore live under his laws, commandments, injunctions and statues. We – Distinguished Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in this Hallowed Chambers, are Christians, Muslims or Traditionalists, all subject to the Almighty God. All of us are on the side of the Almighty God. Let us please pass this Bill to reinculcate the morals in our society, to stop the negation of our family values and restore the dignity of womanhood and indeed the dignity of manhood.

Do I need to debate on the necessity of the sexual intimidation clauses contained in this Bill. We hear on daily basis the cries of our daughters and even our sons who are sexually intimated at the Tertiary Institutions and even at other levels of education and the workplace. We send them to school, labour with sweat to pay their fees, they study hard only to fail because they refuse to make their bodies sex machines to satisfy the lust of some irresponsible lecturers. They suffer to write employment test, pass with flying colours only to be dropped because they refuse to give in sexually. Some of us who were Lectures know how many times we have been sexually seduced by our students and made to rubbish our hard earned reputations.

Many people suffer sexual harassments. It includes all unwanted and offensive behaviours, whether physical or verbal, in which an individual uses sexuality to violate another’s liberty and dignity. It expresses itself through verbal intimidation, embarrassing attention, unwanted physical contact and demands for sexual favours. As a result most men and women have had to leave their jobs with much bitterness, while others have had to lower their standard of morality and indulge in humiliating acts of sexual gratification just to keep their jobs or be promoted.

Should such ugly incidents and practices continue? NO, IT SHOULD INDEED NEVER CONTINUE.

We need this law, our children need this law and the generations yet unborn will be grateful to us all. Thank you, Members of the hallowed Chambers of the Senate.


Senator Eme Ufot Ekaette, MFR
Chairman
Committee on Women Affairs, Social Welfare and Youth Development
Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

31 comments:

Opium,  11:12 am  

I haven't read it all but why, oh why, do people in Nigeria always use God's name in vain! Using God's name does not render one's position infalliable!

OPium,  11:14 am  

For crying out loud, Saudi Arabia, Iran, China ARE NOT, not even by a long shot, advanced democracies!!!!!!

Anonymous,  12:15 pm  

It could also be that the woman is speaking the mind of many Nigerians, who do feel offended by lewd dress.

ope,  3:12 pm  

Many Nigerian being offered by lewd dress. Let us not be hypocrital here for God's sake. is this our problem? We do not have electricity, water is a problem, living in Nigeria can be a nightmare and yet this bill is our priority.

Miniskirt Liberation Front,  4:31 pm  

I'm offended by stupidity. Why isn't there a law against that?

I agree that we need public decency laws, but they must be at a minimum, and they must have the greatest respect for individual human rights. Yes, people shouldn't be walking through Ikoyi with their penis exposed, or going topless (if they're women) at Alaba market, but that's a far cry from what we're talking about here.

Nigeria is susceptible to the tyranny of the majority. Some of us are Nigerian and care nothing for Christian or Muslim morals.

Anonymous,  4:53 pm  

Frankly, I think Senator Ekaette may have a mental disorder. She is from Akwa Ibom isnt she? and thats where children are allegedly being killed for being child witches(whatever that means) shouldn't she be more concerned about such issues? I weep for Nigeria, If these are the calibre of people we have in power, then perhaps there is no hope for advancement in the country. She couldn't even state a good case, God this, God that? Is Nigeria a church?

Akin 5:47 pm  

The sexual intimidation/harassment part I can understand - the public nudity part leaves me rather concerned.

Would we now have a moral police measuring the degrees of nudity and a sliding scale of fines to reflect the degree of offence?

Sexual harassment needs to be addressed but not in a bill aimed at making all ladies prude black-clothed women in burqas.

Do we not have greater problems in Nigeria beyond this stupidity seeking honourable mention?

How did I ever end up Nigerian? A question that plagues me every now and then.

Dee 6:05 pm  

Hmmm…frankly, I’m still quite lost, I just don’t get it.
Maybe someone can help me here and clearly define what public nudity and lewdness is…?
Once again, we've really blurred the lines on this one. Aaagh, Naija!

Anonymous,  6:28 pm  

'Recently, we have received reports of arrest and harassment of females and males on account of indecent dressing by our security agencies.'

How come security agencies are allowed to dress indecently?

More importantly, where do they hide their guns??!!

nneoma 8:29 pm  

@opium - to an extent, neither are Texas and Florida...lol, jk.

But I do agree with her point that we do need to tackle the issue of sexual harrasment - that is using position to curry sexual favors. But in regards to public nudity - i think that indirectly discriminates against mad people - i mean are we going to arrest them to....lol

but seriously, Ekaette should go and sit down...

Anonymous,  10:35 pm  

I'm so insulted, I refuse to read the speech.
Its hilarious how nigeria always finds something else other than the obvious to tackle. How about no electricity, bad roads, undrinkable water, unemployment, uneducated kids, rising levels of crime, NO DAMN SECURITY, the USELESS POLICE FORCE, falling infrastructures, FUCKING PEDOPHILES...really, should I go on?
Does Ekaette think that by this bill passing, her husband wont chase Emem anymore? Delusion is a bitch oh, because for all the man cares, if halima covers herself up to her eyes, he is going after her.
Passing laws to monitor the way people dress is insane, and for a country like nigeria that claims to be oh so "democratic", it infringes on peoples right to express themselves as they see fit. Passing public decency laws isnt going to make us any more of a decent society....

Waffarian 12:38 am  

"If the prevalence of public nudity is allowed to completely annihilate our age-long values of very high morals, we would be forced to all wear iron jeans trousers with padlocked belts to avoid being raped or sexually assaulted. God forbid!"

Ah! abeg, make I call my cousin in Taiwan, e be like say padlocks na the business to be in oh! we fit "customize" the thing self!

Anonymous,  1:28 am  

There should be a bill passed on all Senators/govt offcials who present such speeches/articles with any grammar error at all. They should be stripped off their titles and sent back to secondary school.

Anonymous,  12:16 pm  

Auntie Senator has confused the issues in a major way and brought two issues together that frankly don't sit well. How on earth do you say you want to tackle public nudity and sexual harrassment in the same bill?! I am sure none of us here would have a problem if the Senate passed a very narrow bill around public nudity (strictly defined as just that - nudity) but she's conflated so many issues together, this bill must not pass. It's not addressing the causes of oppression; it's insinuating that women are to blame for men raping them (hence they should wear padlocked jeans)- an error which must stop in Nigerian society. I could go on and on. Aaarrgghhhh. Is there no one in the Senate that can provide a rejoiner to her speech?! Help!

Anengiyefa 7:08 pm  

Maybe its because I've been paying only fleeting attention to the goings on in the legislature. By God!, my mouth has flatly refused to close! I'm not sure if its because I'm struck with overwhelming shock and amazement, or if its because I'm filled with fright and horror. And this woman is a Senator?

May God save our souls and our country.

Sugabelly 9:40 pm  

Senator Ekaette obviously is sexually frustrated in her marriage, and undoubtedly fat and has let herself go, which resulted in her husband neglecting her sexually. She obviously believes that the cause of this is not her own negligence but the fault of some young nubile girl, who through no fault of her own, but rather by the law of Nature is slim, and more sexually attractive than Senator Ekaette.

Anonymous,  9:40 pm  

I am SO upset at the appaling level of English in this letter. If only it was in caps, it would be one of those 419 thingies......

And don't even get me started on the actual content!!

Kyrian 11:52 am  

In all fairness,it will be heartwarming to specifically criminalise the obnoxious practices of sex for grades, employment etc. in our statute books...
However, taking it to the next level of 'arresting' any person who shows a little bit of skin (in a tropical country!)is plain dumb and unimaginative...
With due respects that segment should be deleted...moreso it cloaks MADAM SENATOR in the undignified garb of an abandoned 'old cargo' enmeshed in a petty crusade to annihilate her real and speculative husband snatchers...she should be woman enough to trust the man she married...
and please,let us not crucify her grammatical infancy,it only crystalises the fact that there are still a few things money cannot buy.

onydchic 1:36 pm  

ephyrI wasn't even slightly impressed by that speech. She made no point. It sounds like soemthing a secondary school child would have written, not a fully educated person of age and experience. Indecent dressing my foot. What of the 'decently' dressed girls harassed by lecturers? What happens then? Abi is it not what lies under the clothes that they're after? *hiss* such ignorance.

Destiny,  12:00 pm  

Hello All, I don't know if someone else is organising this but I am seriously thinking about the London march to the Nigerian Embassy so if anyone is interested e-mail me at nkiruahiauzu@yahoo.com. I should introduce myself (sorry!) - I am a Lecturer in Law at the Aberystwyth University in Wales, UK. This is my departmental webpage: http://www.aber.ac.uk/law/staff/ahiauzu.shtml. If we can get this together it will be useful because like I said, we have to train our leaders to know that they can't do stupid things without getting a reaction.

If you e-mail me, I will set up a mailing list and we can discuss the date and other modalities of the march.

With wishes, Nkiruka Ahiauzu

Anonymous,  9:39 pm  

It is absolutely ridiculous that she would attempt to impose this "legalization of morality." Nigeria is not a secondary school neither is it a church...so you cannot say you aren't allowed to wear this or that. Combat sexual harassment and i'll respect that, support it even...but we must admit Nigeria has way bigger problems than indecent dressing. Places like the United States cannot be used as a measure on dressing and morality, that's ludicrous. They condone nakedness and sexual immorality just as much as the next country, if not more so...! I have no words. Idiocy generally leaves me speechless.

ink 7:03 pm  

i cant. i just cant. i cant give this post an intelligent reply. i just want to tell her to shut up.

Anonymous,  10:40 pm  

May I just make it known that we live in a tropical country??? and that some parts of this blessed country are hotter than madame's microwave...??? Y then am I being banned from wearing shorts or a spaghetti top to walk acroos the street. Am I supposed to dress in Iro and buba or what (Forgive ig I got the spelling of that wrong). we should be looking for a way to correct perveted,sick minds not looking for a secondary issue to point fingers at.

For God's sake ...how is two inches below the shoulder an indecent thing...??
ABEG OOOO!!!!!!

Anonymous,  3:11 am  

Its rather sad...the sort of things our leaders concentrate on!... we still have people who are homeless, people who cant afford good medical care, electricity problems, bad roads, the list is inexhaustible!...but gosh!...of all things to concentrate on...indecent dressing!!!...It leaves me speechless and almost frustrated!

Anonymous,  3:23 am  

na wa o!
some sick leaders just want to make a name for themselves!

God save our motherland!!!

Anonymous,  7:28 pm  

Do they not have better thing to do. And less not forget that are you going to start arresting everybody wearing lace to a party now. Who is going enforce this the NPF(joker = Nigerian police force: I will use the terms interchangeably..pun indented ), they will just harass everybody and their mother for money now please let focus the little resources the joker have on fighting the crime of people getting robbed in go slow and more important issues.
Focus on reforming the joker them self’s the list goes on and on. I can under the sexual harassment part this good and noble, but I am sure that part will never get enforced, the will focus on the bribes they can get and how they can use the law to sexually harass the women that they are suppose to be protecting.
This people are ludicrous imbecile’s with insatiable appetites for the nation wealth, who propose stupid laws to cover up there inefficiency and gross criminal acts being committed everyday by themselves. They have nothing better to do and now. They want to give their Joker’s another way to disturb human beings abeg..abeg!!! Focus on something better than this you are on the peoples dime and they are suffering ……What utter rubbish.

Anonymous,  7:28 pm  

Do they not have better thing to do. And less not forget that are you going to start arresting everybody wearing lace to a party now. Who is going enforce this the NPF(joker = Nigerian police force: I will use the terms interchangeably..pun indented ), they will just harass everybody and their mother for money now please let focus the little resources the joker have on fighting the crime of people getting robbed in go slow and more important issues.
Focus on reforming the joker them self’s the list goes on and on. I can under the sexual harassment part this good and noble, but I am sure that part will never get enforced, the will focus on the bribes they can get and how they can use the law to sexually harass the women that they are suppose to be protecting.
This people are ludicrous imbecile’s with insatiable appetites for the nation wealth, who propose stupid laws to cover up there inefficiency and gross criminal acts being committed everyday by themselves. They have nothing better to do and now. They want to give their Joker’s another way to disturb human beings abeg..abeg!!! Focus on something better than this you are on the peoples dime and they are suffering ……What utter rubbish.

Onajomo,  4:02 am  

I wonder which drugs Senator Ekaette uses. Her speech alone would make a sane person weep; and she is a Senator? What's with the gratuitous invocation of God? What has the Almighty got to do with it? She called on God nearly 6 times in the speech. Is it God that elected her to office? Pray, can she tell God that she did to rig her elections? Is it God that she serves on the Senate Committee for Women and Children?

Furthermore, her logic is puerile. She insinutates that it is the victims of rape that bring it on themselves. Does she honestly believe that? She has pervesely conflated a moral issue (decency) with a social one; sexual abuse of women. I cannot imagine that she even has the nerve to read out such tripe in public.

Please, Senator, Nigeria is NOT Saudi Arabia. Neither is it Federal Government Girls College, Ikot Ekpene. Keep your benighted Puritan sense of decency to yourself. We do not all share your crudely defined morality and even if we did, the Senate is not the place for such a discussion.

Are 'spagetti' straps the most pressing issue facing Nigerian women and children? How about infant mortality, education and mental and physical abuse in a patriarchal society? Is Senator Ekaette blind? Does she not see these problems around her? Abi, suffer no dey Akwa Ibom?

Last year, of all the very grave problems facing Nigeria - NEPA,Police, lack of rule of law, abject poverty, violence - the Senate decided to focus on prosecuting homosexuals. Now, it is Senator Ekatte? We cannot accept the twaddle that Senator Ekaette proposes for a law. Thank goodness, that Nigerians have rejected her ill-conceived proposal.

jb 9:15 pm  

what do u people know? some one is trying 2 make a positive difference in the economy and u all are blabbing....OK she should live and do noting bout it....will u people say anything. idiotic,ungrateful.people go and sit down and do something useful with ur live instead of hating on someone..God bless her.... at least she is doing something 4 the country.....WHAT ARE U ALL DOING??????IDIOTS

Anonymous,  6:10 pm  

i think its pathetic.....and senator ekaette as a person must be out of your mind. why don't men get arrested for cheating? or is that not also a crime? why must all moral issues be related to women? I haven't heard of any male being arrested for indecent dressing and considering that a lot of guys walk around shirtless I'm surprised. Women are being arrested for wearing outfits like jeans and a tshirt or even if your knees are barely showing. Basically if the woman is in a situation where she works late, she's going to get arrested, be called a prostitute, pay bail and be molested in her cell while she waits to get out. its bullshit!

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