Nigeria: Defending the rights of young women in academic establishments in Nigeria

BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights's Strategy Team for Violence against Women was inaugurated on 18 July 2007 to deliberate on all forms of violence against women and strategize on the best approaches to consolidate BAOBAB’s work on curbing this menace.
BAOBAB informed the strategy team of a Newspaper report captioned: “Scholars and Saints: Covenant University Stipulates Negative Test To Pregnancy, HIV As Precondition For Graduation By Final Year Students” dated July 14th 2007 by the Saturday Punch.
BAOBAB is concerned that this action of the university authority is a fundamental infringement of human rights, discriminatory and promotes gender disparity in the treatment of women and girls. An analysis by the team revealed that the action of the university is ultra vires the Nigeria University Commission (NUC) regulation and violates the National Agency for the Control of AIDS Committee (NACA) guidelines for voluntary confidential testing. In a swift response to this, the team sent out a protest letter on 19 th July 2007 to the university and other relevant agencies, calling on all concerned to take appropriate steps in putting an end to this development.

As a result of the exchange in correspondences with our vast network, BAOBAB and the members of the team initiated discussion on this controversy. This gave rise to diverse suggestions and activities by members of concerned human rights activists and Organisations. In response to the suggestions BAOBAB constituted an ACTION TEAM of LEGAL EXPERTS to deliberate on the controversy from a legal perspective. The Action Team Meeting held on Friday 3 rd of August 2007, came up with some recommendation on the possibility of instituting an action through the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) strategy. The issue of “Locus Standi” was seen as a set back for the action and BAOBAB with contribution from the team further undertook the responsibility of doing a media advertorial, calling on aggrieved students/parent/wards to contact the organization with respect to the university compulsory HIV/Pregnancy Testing policy.

BAOBAB on behalf of the team has involved the print media by sending out an article addressing the controversy. The article was sent to various media organisation and has been published by The Guardian Newspaper and Thisday Newspaper. The article was entitled: “Compulsory HIV/Pregnancy Testing on Students: Between Legality and Morality” and “A Psychological Death Sentence” respectively.

BAOBAB has since then been monitoring the news and newspapers publication for any further development on this controversy and in calling for a policy reversal by the university authority, BAOBAB has identified allies in some government agencies such as the Ministry of Youth Development, the Nigeria University Commission (NUC), National Agency for the Control of AIDS Committee (NACA), the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) that have severely depreciated this action and are presently investigating the situation.