For a while, I tried not to label myself the dreaded word ‘feminist’. However, the more I tried to fight it, the more it was shoved in my face. Sometimes, I tried to look away but it felt like every time I turned my cheek, I was slapped with another depressing story of oppression and discrimination. It was quite alarming to see that women in modern times were still treated unfairly. One day, I was watching this episode about a rape victim on a talk show back home and I wondered if in the age we live in, rape victims still suffered from a stigma. It got me thinking and i decided that i will label myself. If labelling myself means that it is my way of battling this great injustice evident in our society, then yes I am a feminist. I cannot stand to watch our women suffer and be ridiculed while men are let off easy. So, I decided to write about this, Rape and the woman in the modern Nigerian society.
Firstly, I would like to start off by stating this piece is based on a scenario, which I created and believe to be what happens everyday, but if you think differently, please feel free to share.
“Ade is a girl found lying on the streets of Lagos one early morning, alive and conscious but she seems to have suffered a grave ordeal and is in a state of shock perhaps. A local business woman’s interest is peaked when she discovers her body as she was passing by. She asks whats wrong but Ade refuses to speak. “Maybe she’s gone mad” the woman thinks to herself but Ade starts crying, the woman now sees the scars, blood stains, swollen cheek and a broken zip. The dress she’s wearing looks expensive but seems to be hanging loosely on her battered figure. The woman draws the attention of locals and no one seems to know who Ade is. People hang around with folded arms and frowns and coo sorrowful tones and spiteful whispers. Only one individual, a man, does something productive. He suggests taking her to a hospital or police station. Of course, thats when everyone realises they have work to do, places to go, children to feed and deadlines to meet. Even the man seems to have gone full on ghost mode and is no where to be found. Eventually, a couple volunteer to take her to the hospital but at the hospital no one wants to attend to Ade. The volunteers get impatient and the wife shakes Ade up to speak and in a tiny, broken and scared voice, she whispers two words dreadful enough to cause a commotion and people in the hospital become intrigued and once again, a small crowd has surrounded the girl and everyone is asking her questions. Doctors are pressured to attend to the girl and they discover she was indeed raped multiple times and drugged. Ade is yet to speak to a counsellor and is afraid to speak about her ordeal because she’s still traumatised and in shock. The crowd has dispersed into smaller groups loitering around the hospital premises, each group developing a theory. “Why the commotion? isn’t it just rape” A female passer-by calls out to the bystanders and walks away. “Yes, I’m sure it’s her fault” women nod in unison and begin talking about how provocative the latest fashion trends are and how loose the younger generation are. A woman even says her expensive dress was “what lured prowlers”. Women conclude she went to her boyfriends house to seduce him with her expensive dress and it backfired on her and then they say its probably what she had coming, “besides, it is an everyday something”and the first man to make up his own theory says “she probably misyarned and the guys dealt with her” ”
While creating that scenario, I became ashamed of our society if this is exactly how people think and its disappointing because no one guessed the truth. No one knew who Ade was, where she came from or what her story is. They judged her from a very unfortunate ordeal which in no sense should be any female’s “fault”. No one considered the fact that perhaps she’d been abducted from her father’s car as she was a liability in an armed robbery gone wrong and soon became collateral damage. No one considered the fact that she’d been assaulted and raped consecutively by criminals for three days, drugged and dumped on the streets of Lagos, a place she neither resides in nor is familiar with. She was not at some boy’s house, neither was she at some party or club. She was not dressed like a prostitute and neither has she ever whored herself around. She’s a girl who suffered something despicable, unjust and has gone through a psychological trauma that would haunt her and we have bystanders talking about the latest fashion trends!
When did Rape become a norm? When did gang rape of all things become acceptable? when did rape victims become the instigators of rape? Why would it be called rape if they are the instigators !? Why would society continue to diminish what is left of the female’s status in society and keep building up the male’s ego by making them feel Rape is acceptable? by making them feel they are the alphas and deserve to go about shoving things into girls who are unwilling? Why would we even allow men get away with physically and psychologically defiling our women? Why should we continue to fuel the notion that females are nothing but weak and cunning? Why are women the greatest stumbling blocks to the progress of their status in society? Why are we in a haste to blame ourselves, think so little of ourselves because we just can’t think of the men as anything but alphas?
I could answer these questions and write an essay on this but actually, it would be best if I leave it here.