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Sex is (not) easy in Africa

It had been a long journey and I was exhausted. I had left Zimbabwe some two days before and was now stuck at the Leopold Senghor Airport in Dakar, Senegal eager to embark on the last leg of my journey to Banjul, the Gambia to take part in the 50th Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights. I was exhausted and in no mood for chit chat. May I join you? He asked. Sure, I responded. He asked all the niceties about where I was going, where I was coming from, why I was travelling. Then the conversation got more personal, do I have a boyfriend, is our relationship serious and all this time I wondered where the conversation was going. Then came the bombshell, was I a virgin. At this stage I was doing my level best to control my temper because clearly this Indian man was trying to pick me up. I asked why he was asking such personal questions and his response was blunt…Oh well you know, sex is easy in Africa.

On investigating further, I discovered that his conclusion emanated from his experiences in Guinea where allegedly he discovered a society where it is easy for a man to get sex from a woman he hardly knows. I doubted his assertions about Guinea and I objected to his generalisations about African women. It is such generalisations that breed prejudices and such prejudices lead to the abuse of women. It is from the presumption that all women love attention that most men think they can comment on a woman's looks loudly and she will appreciate it yet some of us find that to be harassment. It is from the presumption that all women should not have an opinion that women's voices are suppressed yet without my voice I am incomplete. It is also from the presumption that a woman's place is in the kitchen that the girl child is not given an equal opportunity to an education as a boy and hence her chances of making it big in life are limited yet those of us who have been given the chance are proving to be equally capable to men ...if not better.

Hence I made it clear to him that sex is not 'easy' in Africa. I made it clear that simply because women have a choice to determine their sexuality and sexual conduct does not make them prostitutes as he suggested. I made it clear I was not available for a pick up. I also made it clear I found his attempt to pick me up deplorable and that he owed me an apology.

In the end I spent the 12 hours of my transit comfortably ensconced in the VIP lounge, having warm tea and delicious cookies, all paid for by the Indian not-so-gentle-man as part of his 'apology package' and NO I did not have to sleep with him to get all that.

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sjoydorman's picture

Absolutely, 100% agreed, my

Absolutely, 100% agreed, my dear - and that doesn't go just for African women, might I add! Thank you for speaking out for all of us and for speaking up for yourself. May women all over the world learn not to carry on in silence any longer.

Stella Paul's picture

Would've done the same

I liked the way you handled this whole thing: staying calm and telling him off without shouting at him. I would have done the same, or at least, that's what I always suggest. It works far better that way. But of course I can't stand if one tries to get touchy feely...

Having said all that, I can't help also commenting that this man was plain lying about what he did/got in Guinea. Coming form India, a country where sex is a taboo, I know most guys view travelling abroad as their golden chance to have sex. In a very sickening way they think outside India, every woman is just sitting out there, ready to take them in any time.

That's why a cool talk is the best medicine to what I call a sickness.

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

juliapp's picture

Right on, girlfriend.

Right on, girlfriend.

ruthibelle's picture

Correct approach

Your response was necessary, appropriate and totally justified. That's one up for women everywhere :)

Love,
Ruthibelle
ruthibelle.blogspot.com

usha kc's picture

Yess,, being cool instead of

Yess,, being cool instead of lossing temper is best way to answer them. I think not only for African lades but for woman all over the world should face such unwanted question, unwantd behave .
Thank you so much for shaing dear sister. have safe journey.

Greengirl's picture

Thumbs up for you my Barrister at Law

My very own Madube, you deserve an award for educating our Indian friend in a very dignified manner. I hope he will take the message further that African Women are not sluts as he had wrongly presumed.
Thank you for proving that women have dignity. You stood up for the "WOMAN RACE" (No prejudice meant against men).
I am proud of you.

Your Sister, Friend and Loyal Client,

Olanike Olugboji

MaDube's picture

Thank you all

Indeed if I had been rude to him I would have missed the opportunity I created for myself to educate him about women's choices and how those choices should be respected and how individuals should learn not to presume things about others based on very small and insignificant samples they may have come across. Stella, I agree with you that I doubted the things he said about Guinea. Sarah and Usha it is true that this not only applies to African women. Sarah, you and I had the same experiences in Egypt where the assumption was that all foreign (non-Arabic and non-Muslim) women do not attach value to sex hence they can have it with whoever is available. These are wrong assumptions hence the high levels of sexual harassment against the groups prejudiced. Sis Ola, Ruthie and Julia, thank you so much.

Okeny-Lucia's picture

Lol,ahahahhaha

My dear Sister,
You will never cease to bring laughter into my life.Thats our african men,ahahahah but not all.That was well put,you remind me of the forum I attended yesterday on gender and health.It is ammazing what I heard.Check it out soon here in the pulse

Lucia Buyanza
Reproductive Health

MaDube's picture

Dear Sis Lucia

These men are quite funny aren't they, I mean after you get over the anger of feeling insulted by their suggestions. I will look out for the report on the forum.

Bonnie Samuel's picture

YES! Thank you, MaDube

Wonderful story, such a great example of how stereotypes form, as well as our responsibility to defame them whenever we have the opportunity to do so....or make the opportunity to speak up! Thank you so much!

MaDube's picture

Thank you Bonnie for your

Thank you Bonnie for your encouraging words. I hope he never forgets his encounter with me too and that he will treat women with more respect from now on.

Judy K's picture

Sex is (Not) Easy in Africa

Women everywhere in the world need to be inspired by your example. It's not only some men's perception of African women. I've heard the same thing said regarding American women. This kind of harrassment happens to all of us at one time and in one way or another, particularly when traveling. And so, we come to expect it . This leads some women to avoid ever leaving home to see the world and be seen. Speaking back to this man in the way you did taght him a lesson that he will hopefully share with others. Thanks for doing this.

Judy Kugelmass

MaDube's picture

It has become quite a

It has become quite a pervasive form of sexual harassment and I have taken it upon myself to deal with every male who creates problems of that nature to me. I hope many others will join me then maybe we can show individuals such as this guy that their behaviour is unacceptable.

Osai's picture

Well Done!

Hi MaDube,

You handled the situation quite well. This is what we (women) experience in various ways. An annoying one is when you attend NGO meetings or workshops and a male participant (who should know better since he is working on rights) tries to hit on you. Very bad taste.

Great meeting you in Banjul. Looking forward to seeing you soon.

Best regards,
Osai

Twitter: @livingtruely

MaDube's picture

Hey love

I know about those men too, the ones who think going to a workshop and a country where no one really knows them is a ticket to misbehave. Terrible stuff.

It was great meeting you too and oh what a pleasant surprise it was for me. I am sure we shall meet somewhere someday, maybe the next session of the African Commission? Who knows...

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