Sometime last year, I was wrapping up work for the day when an ex hit me up to check in and ask what I would be doing after work. I said I was going to see a male friend who lived close to my office. Said friend had invited me over to come play some game online that he thought I would enjoy. When I said that to the ex, he expressed a measure of discomfort in a manner that annoyed me. What was his business if I was hanging out with some other guy? Weren’t we over?
I did go to the friend’s house. We played the game and it was alright. But I didn’t speak to the ex for a whole month. Mind your business let me mind mine. When we finally spoke a month later, he explained that his reservations that night stemmed from having heard so many rape cases and I finally understood his discomfort. It was not jealousy like I had thought. It was concern.
Why is this story relevant?
This morning, I stumbled on a fictional piece written 3 years ago for BellaNaija by Arit Okpo and the comments had me shrinking into a tiny corner of myself and cringing badly. With all due respect, a fair number of Nigerians are absolute dimwits. I said it. Feel free to vex.
You can read the story here then read the comments and hopefully, you’ll understand why I was mad.
- It hurt badly to read a lot of comments where people said “I can relate to this. It happened to me.” Those comments crushed me.
- It pissed me the hell off to read a lot of comments where people said “It was her fault.” “She said no but she was asking him to use a condom. Why would she say that if she didn’t want it?” “Why was she visiting him anyway?”
I’m certain by now that you have deduced that the subject at hand is rape. The story on BellaNaija speaks of a fictional character who pays a visit to a guy she is attracted to on her way to the market and gets raped by him. The violation of trust makes her protests weak and the knowledge of the limited options available in that situation results in a plea for the molester to use a condom.
In typical fashion, ill-mannered and clueless Nigerians displayed their lack of empathy or common sense in the comment section, spewing thoughts that could only have come from brains that can be best described as badly decomposed. Or most likely, half-eaten by zombies. Really.
It brought to mind the incident with the Ex last year and it left me wondering just what is expected of women in Nigeria. If there were to be a book for women hoping to survive in Nigeria, it would probably read “Thou Shall not Live: A Nigerian Woman’s Guide to Avoiding Rape.” The 10 commandments contained therein would likely include.
- Do not make male friends. You can’t trust them so don’t be friends with them at all.
- Do not talk to men. Of course we have already eliminated friends. So father, uncle, brother, pastor, colleague, stranger… because anything you say or do can and will be inferred as an invitation to rape.
- Do not wear anything fashionable. As a matter of fact, please, cover yourself from head to toe. In typical, Islamic religion fashion, wear a Hijab and a Burqa because as proven by Pakistani women who dress in like manner, it is the most fool-proof means of avoiding rape. Tested and proven.
- Do not grow up. Whatever you do, do not grow past a few months after birth. Because whether 9 or 19 or 30, you’re automatically eligible for rape.
- Do not leave your house. I mean, this absolutely brilliant idea was captured in less than 140 characters by a nice chap who cares deeply about women and knows the solution to all their problems. He tweeted “…you as a woman can avoid rape by sitting in your house.” Don’t say you weren’t told.
- Do not have any form of interaction with men. I mean, in case you missed out 5 above, and you had to go buy bread across the street, make sure you flee in the opposite direction if you sight a man. As you well know, men are raging *insert name of wild animal as you please here* who have no self-control. So avoid any form of interaction with them.
- Do not go to the church or any other religious gathering for any reason. Do not also interact with the Man of God. Because we do not want you to tempt the religious leader who might feel inclined to raise your skirts and take you to another level of grace.
- Should you somehow manage to get married after avoiding men all your life, ensure that you offer your body, a willing sacrifice to your husband whenever, wherever and however he requests it. Ensure that you never turn him down even if you are collapsing from exhaustion. He owns you and your body, having paid your bride-price. So make sure you give it to him, because if he ever has to take it forcefully, you cannot call it rape.
- Having gotten married and made babies of the male and female species, ensure that you say absolutely nothing to your son about respect and self-control. He is a man after all and can do exactly as he pleases. But to your daughter instill fear, timidity and shame. Pass this book down to her and let her know that if she fails to comply with all these rules, she is a disgrace to womanhood and entirely responsible for whatever happens to her.
- Above all, do not get raped. Even after taking all the steps listed above, do well to ensure that you do not get raped. Because I mean, if you followed these steps and you still get raped, then it must be your fault. And if you do get raped, do not talk about it. Because we will always remind you of how it is your fault.
I sincerely look and pray to a time when Nigerians will have brains that work and hearts that empathize. But until then dear ladies, thou shalt not live so as to avoid getting raped.
Image credit: indianexpress.com
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