While discussing the ‘Nigeria sex scandal’ in America, a viewer called in to a talk show to offer his intelligent perspective. Through the line, he said, “Attempted rape is not a big deal”, defending the acts of our perverse leaders. So, sexual harassment or molestation is alright as long as actual sex does not occur? I would like to believe that this is just one man’s opinion in the vast sea of Nigerians, but the longer I stay here, the less convinced I am of this belief. His comments capture a common mentality: Nothing is ever particularly bad; it can be overlooked until it’s the worst possible scenario. This applies to everything from leaking roofs to potholed roads to sexual abuse.
My dears, I have decided to stop saying anything bad about our leaders. An ideal government represents the interests and the mentalities of its people; and that is what we have in Nigeria. If the people think giving bribes or chancing others is not a big deal, well, so does the government. If grabbing someone and touching them inappropriately is nothing to us, our leaders agree with you. We are one and the same.
The Gender and Equal Opportunities bill was thrown out of senate earlier this year and a cry of uproar was heard from some educated circles, but I am realising that the honest truth is that many Nigerian men were against the bill. They seem to believe that our cultures and religions permit them to do whatever they like to women because men are the head of households. And many women subscribe to this theory too*. So, the decision of the Nigerian Senate truly represented the interests of the majority.
I know I talk a lot about gender and abuse, but it is so in my face. Just as the issue of gun violence is unavoidable in America, the violence and injustice against women bites hard and pervades one’s sight in Nigeria. I am a woman which makes people take me less seriously – “She’s one of those crazy, deluded feminists” – when I speak of these things but I am not going to shut up.
Recently, a lawmaker told his female colleague that he will beat her up and impregnate her and he will get away with it. Since January, there have been countless cases of men killing their wives in their own homes – and those are only the ones that manage to make it to the news. Children like Ese Oruru continue to be abducted and impregnated – and not by Boko Haram.
The terrorists aren’t just some masked men with machine guns in the North East. They are your friends, relatives, schoolteachers, colleagues, next-door neighbours, and religious leaders. They are people we smile and greet everyday. They are people we live with. We’ve got so used to their remarks and ‘slips’ of the hand that we are accepting this as normal. That’s just the way men are. Females have caring motherly instincts while males are strong and sexually charged. That’s why someone can dare to open his mouth and say, “Attempted rape is not a big deal”.
*Just a question: Is it really sexism if women agree with it?
Image|Source: Bella Naija