Hello everyone. This past week has been rough. Both America and my home country Nigeria have been on fire. In Nigeria, a drunk police officer shot and killed a 16 year old girl Tina, as she was walking on the street. As well, a 22 year old girl Uwa was brutally raped and murdered in a church were she was studying. She eventually passed away. Another 12 year old girl was raped by 11 men after refusing their sexual advances. These are just the stories we know of. Violence is being perpetuated against Nigerian women everyday. We are living in fear every single day, and we are tired. We are no longer going to be silent. We just want to live!
What makes it worse is the fact that rapists and rape apologists have come out to justify and defend these assaults. Multiple men online have confessed to raping women. Others have asked stupid questions about what she was wearing or why she was in the church. It doesn’t matter! This girl is dead! She will never have a future. It is taking me so much to write this because this girl could be me. All she wanted to do was live and have a good life, and people are blaming her for her death. What is wrong with us? She didn’t deserve this. If you find yourself trying to ‘but’ this situation, check yourself. I weep because we are suffering. We are dying. All we want to do is walk the streets without fear. To visit our friends without fear. To stay in our homes without fear. To go to church, to school, to work in peace. Is that too much to ask for? We just want to be left in peace. I can’t even say how many times I have cried for the blood of my sisters, my fellow women. Enough is enough.
As a result, I have taken out time to put together some practical things that we can do. How can we transform our outrage to action, given our Nigerian context? We can do these in the following ways:
- Support local organizations: Many organizations are doing the ground work to end gender-based violence, and we need to support them. They include: Mirabel Center (a rape-crisis center), Stand to End Rape Ng, Warif Ng, amongst others. Please if you know more, comment so I can update it. Donate your time and your money to them. Share their initiatives on your platforms. Lend your voices to their cause.
- Call out rape apologists: I have been taking note of all the people who are looking for ways to justify these heinous crimes. They are looking for any way to blame the victim. Call them out. Unfollow them. Don’t support them especially if they are public figures. If they are musicians, stop listening to their music. If they are actors, don’t watch their movies. Don’t buy things from them. Use your money to protest.
- Hold space for survivors: There are many survivors around you. Times like this are even more triggering for us. Allow us the space to share our stories. Don’t approach us with disbelief. Believe survivors.
- Address toxic masculinity wherever you see it: Rape is caused only by rapists. That power trip that emboldens them to feel justified in assault needs to be smashed. When we uphold men and demean women, we place women in a position to be victims of this abuse. Yes men are also raped, but let’s stay on topic (oftentimes they are also raped by men). We need to smash the patriarchy wherever we see it
- Teach comprehensive sex education: Everyone needs to be taught consent. It needs to be part of the curriculum. Employers need to make it a point to include gender violence trainings for their employees. Schools need to teach comprehensive sex ed that addresses consent. Churches need to stop teaching women that their bodies belong to their husband and that they have no right to say No. Parents need to teach consent to their children. We need to address this everywhere.
- Check yourself: Our society doesn’t care about women. To address gender-based violence, we as individuals need to unlearn this and begin to care. We need to unlearn the harmful stereotypes that have placed women as subordinate to men, and relearn that we are equal. If you were not taught, teach yourself!
I don’t want anymore Tinas. I don’t want anymore Uwas. Nigerian women are tired. We just want to live. Enough is enough.