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"See what you are wearing!"

"See what you are wearing! See how she dressed". That was what my assaulter said while defending himself because I raised my voice to challenge him. So many girls/women all over the world are violated or have their rights violated in so many ways as each day passed by without an end insight. Without the implementation of an instrument like CEDAW that will protect the rights of every woman, it’s going to be a tough fight.

I stepped out of my office to grab some lunch this afternoon. I heard so many side remarks such as “fine girl”, “hey come here”, “she thinks she is fine” from men on the road as they usually do, the riff raffs, the no-purpose guys will call out at you with no respect as they did today. I ignored it all with the intention to go and chat with my Executive Director about this matter. I wanted to ask her if I look like a girl at almost 31, (not that anything is wrong with looking like a girl but our society rules and respects by age, which is a sad thing) when a riff raff as I would like to call him grabbed my hand. I challenged it and told him it was wrong for him to do so but he went on with his friend by his side and screamed “see what you are wearing” among other things he said.

What is wrong with a woman wearing a jeans skirt and a short sleeve top? Does it matter what you wear as a girl or woman anyway? Does injustice or lack of respect for woman need to have a reason?
So many times, the society will look for an excuse to blame the girl child or the woman for getting raped, for being beating up by her husband, for being disrespected by anyone. She must have caused it; she must have done something to deserve it; it’s her fault.

I am here even so angry, even bursting with rage thinking about how we can eradicate all these acts of injustice to women and girls. How can we? How do we?

Comments

Raising your voice as you did must have set an alarm off, him calling to the others like a sentry, gaining up on you because he couldn't take you on himself. Peer pressure. "Give in to it." It's just scary if a woman fights back or talks sternly back, because maybe you are reminded of his mother, reminded him that he has a responsibility to respect other people and your telling him off brought him back to reality, so he couldn't pretend he was all that anymore and therefore tried to regain control by calling in the pack.
I'm sure that your telling them is the way to go, that they can't ignore you and that response is living proof of it. You are a strong woman, and strong woman take the lead, thus set the example you wish others to follow. I think you had a lot of nerve and spunk to talk back to him, which would scary to confront him then and there.
You have many supporters here as well to fall back on though we are just in the computer. Thanks for sharing that moment of courage. It takes a lot of nerve--or anger ;)-- to do just that.

Oh, which reminds of a thing I read once somewhere in a feminist book, a court case where a lawyer is defender this rapist, saying quite memorably in that chamber: "She wore CLOTHES!" OoO Oh, no! My goodness, what COULD she have worn instead? Ha ha...(shakes head) Ah, the excuses they come up with! Being guilty is one thing they are good at doing to others, eh?

Whew, I must have talked your ear off. I'll be going now. Thanks for indulging me, and above all sharing your story--it's nice to hear things like that.

Dear Alihngix,

thanks for taking time out to read this post and leave comment. You didnt talk my ear off. I should thank you for your patient to write this long reply.

Thank for your words of encouragement, I smiled inspite of myself on the court case you sight. The "she wore clothes" sounded ridiculous. I am sure he regretted saying it as soon as he altered it.

I told the guy he was a disgrace to human race and again that I wondered why he was not aborted long time ago to save the earth the headache of coping with his attitude { I was so angry} and I hardly see the police around to call in situations like this but if they were to collect bribe, they will be everywhere.

I was going on a major road in Lagos last yr, I was sick and was going to the clinic, one guy appeared from no one and grabbed my butt. I gave him 3 dirty slaps before I calmed down. You can read more on this on my blog { http://genderandme.blogspot.com/2009/01/self-defense-how-important-is-it...)

Thanks once again Alihngix

Toyin Ajao

Nelly2.0's picture

I know what you mean

Where I work, I have to put up with a lot of nasty remarks from male colleagues for no other reason than the fact that I am kind of voluptuous and no matter what I wear I hear very nasty and dirty remarks. I guess it's the mentality of whoever makes such remarks and I think you are right to call them riff-raffs.

Nelly

Oluwatoyin Ajao's picture

Re: I know what you mean

Thanks Nelly 2.0. You are really a patient person. I do hope you speak up from time to time. They have to respect you. This angle might not be nice but why dont you ask them in a subtle way if they ever respect thier sisters, girlfriends/wives or mothers?
Then, let them know you are nobody's puppet and that they will have to relate with you in a professional manner. Can you take this up with the management?

This is even more serious than my case because you see these people often and they have got to respect you! And they were given birth to by women that laboured to keep them alive! What a shame

Toyin Ajao

Nelly2.0's picture

Thanks

Frankly speaking, I can be a very patient person, and I wish that here in Cameroon there was some protection for women at the job sites when it comes to sexual harassment. If there were such laws, it would make sense reporting to management, but if you do that here, they'll just laugh and tell you that the men don't mean it, they are just joking so you shouldn't take it to heart. Some times I speak up but sometimes I just stay quiet and walk like I heard nothing. Thanks for the advice and your concern.

Nelly

Oluwatoyin Ajao's picture

Re:Thanks

It's a good thing we belong to this community, we will be able to identify how we can make impact in our respective countries and change things for good. Let's start thinking sister, we must get this resolved!

Toyin Ajao

Maria de Chirikof's picture

Hope for change

It is great that you are standing up to them since each time someone does it, it makes it easier for others to do too. It always drives me crazy that men feel that they can come up and touch us like that and I am glad my girls don't have to go through that kind of thing but so many do! It makes me mad and also makes me wish there was more we could do to educate these men and fill their souls with goodness so they can see what it is they are doing.

Nelly, I agree with TAD that you should bring it up with management, unless that would get you fired. It is unfortunate that woman trying to enforce a sense of equality and dignity are seen as threats and no one can afford to lose their job. Still I hope you can learn to just look them in the eye without shame since it is them who needs to feel it and making them meet your eyes will have an effect over time. When they begin to see you as a person it will make life easier and hopefully for other woman too!

We need to turn our anger and rage into something real and you are already doing that here with us, so the first step is done and you encourage all the other woman to also stand up for themselves. I read they are starting girls camp or something so maybe volunteer for one near you and help teach the girls to stand up to them when they are boys so they wont do it when they are men and will learn to value themselves as well as other woman.

Maria

Oluwatoyin Ajao's picture

Re: Hope for change

Thank you Maria. I really value your insight. I wish the Nigerian government will enact CEDAW instrument in Nigeria and this will make it more difficult for anybody to harrass women. Also our police need more training to help protects women's rights. I wil surely do something about this, we have to be involved. I want a sitution where by women/girls will have life lines among the police officers in their districts to clal up for rescue or so since we dont have any emergence line like 911. This wil help women/girls feel secure that calling a life-line or so will get a police officer that she calls get the nearest officer to get to where she needs help. Well, this will involve govt approval and a lot of training but I think we can do it

Toyin Ajao

Maria de Chirikof's picture

no 911?

Wow, I guess I always imagined "911" as universal where each country had it's own (like I think it is "999" in the UK). That must be so scary then! What do you do in emergencies then?

I think that allowing woman to become police officers will go a long way to helping woman! Though I imagine they will have to had skins as hard as nails to withstand the "joking" from the other police men.

We seriously need to train and support a group that is dedicated to their community so there is a place to call. I guess it goes back to that "isolation" thing where they feel if they can make you feel you are all alone and no one else cares that you will feel powerless to change it into something more Just. That is why we need to work so hard to raise the awareness about this and let them know they are not fooling anybody!

Is there at least a "rape crisis" center for the woman to go to? I mean, even if it is just someone's living room at the beginning it will help the woman feel valued. I don't know though, it seems like it would be wasteful to find a doctor or nurse who can do 'rape kits" since it might be years before a database can be created or labs funded but I hope the woman have access to someone trained to talk to victims of violence!

Good luck and keep up the raising of awareness!

Maria

Nelly2.0's picture

911 my foot!

Dearest Maria,
we have a '911', actually 117 but it operates only in major towns and cities and for nothing like sexual harassment or any thing of the sort. The police in other towns, well, the police force is more like a joke, coz you can be in dire need for help and you ring the police station and they tell you 'we've got no fuel in our cars' or 'I'm the only one in the station'.

Rape Crisis center? I think we are like 25 years away from something like that.

Oluwatoyin Ajao's picture

Re: 911 my foot!

This is similar to Nigeria experience. In fact go and report an abuse on women, they will ask you what did you do? What did you do for your husband to beat you or go home, it's a family matter!

Toyin Ajao

Oluwatoyin Ajao's picture

Re: no 911?

Dear Maria,
no 911 in Nigeria. In fact women abuse and domestic violence were not treated as a human right violation until so many NGOs working on women's rights, gender field started raising their voices. Some of these NGOs take up rape cases and represent the victims in court and provide care as the case may be. The city that I am has now documented violence against women's law

Toyin Ajao

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