Stripped at Midday
Time-check 1.30 a.m.; the sound of the footsteps I’ve grown accustomed to for over 3 years. The first time I heard it, I thought he wanted me to get something for madam since she was pregnant but it turned out oga needed my back-side. He opens my door and I immediately grab my wrapper above my chest with a sleepy eye, I murmur good morning Sir; with a stern face grabs my hand and says if I utter a word he’ll strangle me, I was totally confused. My mind flashed through the day’s activities, I couldn’t remember breaking oga’s favourite drinking glass; I ironed his shirts well and placed the hanger in the exact position madam instructed me. While I was still lost in thought, he drags me up, switches off the light, with my back against him his hands went for my pants and while I tried to struggle he hits me hard on my face; his right hand grabs my mouth and with his left hand he holds my fragile waist and I feel something enter my anus.
This was the beginning of my nightmare. I couldn’t tell anyone; after all they were my “Messiahs”, my father is late and my mother lives in the village, I’m supposed to be the child living in the “city”. I eventually summoned up courage and told (mama) madam’s mother, she warned me never to mention it again.
This isn’t just another make believe story. This is a true life experience by a house help I’ll call UC. My friend and I sought professional help from an agency handling such cases. Investigations revealed two other relatives of the men were sexually molesting her too. Oh!!! We cried; thought our battle had ended only to hear the charges against the men were dropped; the men said she’s an adult and it was consensual.
My dear UC has been stripped of her panties in the dark but on this day SHE WAS STRIPPED NAKED AT MIDDAY by the lies of these men.
Today is celebrated as the United Nations International Youth Day with the theme “Youth Migration: Moving Development Forward”. The youths are recognised as one of the most mobile social groups in the context of migration. UC is one of such migrants; moved from her village to the city with the hope/promise of a better future. Did I mention, she was neither enrolled in school nor empowered with any skill acquisition all the time she lived with the family.
I have a few questions: -
• Is there no law for such cases i.e. house helps?
• Are we saying those men should be walking the streets free without justice?
• If a young lady above 18 is raped, can the law address it?
• Do we have homes where ladies especially house helps, who have been sexually abused and are above 18 can be rehabilitated?
The house helps are a minority group and they are voiceless. They can’t go on Twitter and tweet #househelpnotsextoy, publish a post on a blog or share a video on YouTube. Plans are underway by the agency to unite her with her family in the village.
These are my fears: -
• What seed are we sowing into the society, if she doesn’t go through some form of rehab?
• What lesson is she taking with her, when the society through the law couldn’t defend her?
• Who do we blame tomorrow, if she becomes a sex-worker?
Let us all remember “The woman is the only source of life to the world, once she’s defiled, everything coming from her is defiled too.”