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Nigerian president calls for stricter laws on sex abuse

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.

Nigeria's president called for stricter laws against sexual abuse on Friday after a documentary showed a university lecturer propositioning a reporter posing as an underage student.

The BBC film used an undercover reporter to expose sexual harassment at two universities in Nigeria and Ghana, sparking debate on social media about the problem of "sex for grades".

"Nigeria needs stricter laws to protect girls and women from abuse," said President Muhammadu Buhari in a tweet.

"I acknowledge that we need to do more as a country to address incidents of sexual violence and sexual abuse in our schools; and all forms of discrimination, human trafficking and cultural practices that violate women's rights," he added.

Buhari said he welcomed amendments proposed by the National Assembly to address these issues, without giving details, and urged police and schools to take harassment cases seriously.

A bill aiming to tackle violence against women and gender discrimination was also introduced in 2016, but did not pass the Senate.

Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, has one of the world's lowest rates of female participation in politics and just 6% of its lawmakers are women, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

Buhari has previously been criticized by women's rights activists for saying that his wife "belongs in the kitchen".

The country saw protests by women earlier this year when a popular pastor was accused of rape, prompting a social media movement inspired by the #MeToo campaign that started in Hollywood.

Nigerian actors have said sexual abuse is rife in Nollywood, the country's film industry, and that there are no effective laws to curb it.

"The practice of shaming and silencing victims must also be discouraged by all," Buhari said on Twitter.

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