“What does being a woman mean to you?” is a question that is frequently asked. Which when answered is supposed to be about strength, Muriel’s support, and love, but it’s not. Being a woman in Nigeria is an extreme sport and has become multifaceted, complex, and unfair. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to identify as this gender in a culture that pushes them to absurd standards, antiquated gender stereotypes, and misogyny, to name a few issues. Being a woman in this society is aggravating and enrages me since the circumstance is never in their advantage.
As much as I’d like to write on being a woman in our society in general. How society promotes stereotypes that all women should follow, such as being more feminine, cleaning the kitchen, caring for the children, and not working because the man is in charge of the house. As much as I’d like to write about the mundane, I’d rather focus on a specific angle, which is being a woman in a society that promotes rape culture, which is the most painful aspect of being a woman in Nigeria, for me. A society is misogynistic, it is more concerned with masking the symptoms than curing and tackling the sickness.
In Nigerian society, sexual harassment and sexual violence are common, and it is extremely painful. In Nigeria, women are sexually attacked on a regular basis and in every nook and cranny, and you know it’s reached a climax when it’s perpetrated by fathers on their daughters and clergy on their members. Sexual assault should not be an issue we just discuss when there is a lingering rape case in the news; rather, it should be a part of our daily dialogues since it affects the way we live and the decisions we make.
What would happen if a female was sexually raped in this corner of the world? First, surprisingly, they will be called out by other girls, and this is how messed up being a girl is in this society. The fact that you are a victim and are still being called out and blamed for being a victim by your own gender, there is always this pressure to behave properly as a woman. The culture has successfully imprinted “tags” on individuals, implying that how they dress identifies who they are. And, unfortunately, in a culture where women’s bodies are widely objectified, all women are vulnerable. A victim is criticized for how she dresses, and no one talks about the rape as an act, as much as they should.
Women are being harassed every where in this society, from going to the markets where they get cat called all the time and being sexually harassed by men, some go to the extent of dragging there hands and touching their buttocks, without their consents and when they try to warn them off, the society reacts like they are rebelling against the norms.
The surprising part of being a woman in this society, Nigeria since its independence, has relatively around 18 cases of convicted rape despite having a sexual assault and rape statistic of 1 in 4, with approximately 70% of people reporting incidents of sexual violence. 24.8% of females’ ages 18 to 24 years experienced sexual abuse prior to age 18 of which 5.0% sought help, with only 3.5% receiving any services. With such dismal numbers, how fair is it being a woman in this society? Often, many rape cases do not get conviction in court mainly because investigations are shoddily handled by the police. What do we say about a policeman that asks a rape victim, Why are you crying, didn’t you enjoy it? After all, you aren’t a virgin? Or a policeman that tells the rapist to just find small change for the victim and send her home? What of police officers that even rape women that go to their station to report harassment?
They Won’t Be Believed. This is the biggest deterrent to being a woman in this society which embraces rape culture. You are at constant exposure to sexual harassment from family members, pastors-or even parents, and out of fear of breaking the status quo they can’t speak out. In 8 out of 10 rape cases, the perpetrators are known to the victims and they won’t be believed.
Due to the fact that we are a society that condones rape and our belief and attitude grossly affect the implementation of all laws to punish offenders. In Nigeria, rape victims are blamed for being raped. They are asked questions like what did you wear? Why did you go to his house? Why were you walking alone on that deserted road? It is so bad that women that go through rape would rather bear their pain privately than become the butt of jokes in Nigeria.
This culture has enhanced domestic sexual abuse and cloned it with sayings that submissive attitude equals successful marriage, therefore in this society, women who have married had and has been constantly being objectified and sexually harassed in their homes but can’t open up because they are married and the husband who has paid her bride price “owns her” and she needs to be totally submissive, even at her own detriment, hence, she will be perceived and mobbed as a bad wife.
It’s really saddening that being a woman in this country is an extreme sport, I must say, the normalization of sexual objectification has brought Constant fear of being harassed. Most women, knowing fully well that your consent is barely seeked for and when you get married, you’ve married away your consent, cannot comfortably walk through some roads and would not want to wear some clothes because the misogynistic society would blame them, for the misconducts of it’s “kings”
I really hope that as Africa Rises, Nigeria, which claims to be the giant of the continent, rises to eliminate this culture.
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