Can You Please Let Us Live? We’re Not Asking For Much

When we talk about the rape culture in Nigeria and how the sexual assault of women is normalized, discussions become heated and victim blaming is rife.

From being groped in the market to being groped at church, assaulted in public transport and raped in school, we can no longer deny that Nigerian women are not safe.

The last few years, Nigerian music concerts have become a hotbed of the sexual assault of female concert goers. Social media is littered with stories and reports and the reaction sadly, have been disappointing.

Where is the accountability? Where is the justice? Where are the measures taken to ensure safety at future events?

When the artiste who organized the concert leads the charge in victim blaming and denial, it speaks volumes.

The Nigerian music industry has never really been a safe space for women. I worked for a few years behind the scenes and as a media entrepreneur, I still engage with the industry and I can tell you sordid tales of how aspiring female artistes are exploited, bullied and assaulted.

The general sexist attitude towards women in the industry is also a major issue that hasn’t even begun to be addressed.

So where do we go from here? How do we make our voices loud enough to enforce the change we want?

Asking women to wear jeans and carry pepper spray to concerts is not a solution.

While I will advocate personal safety measures, I will not champion “advice” that is borderline victim blaming.

I believe this education and sensitization must continue. Let’s take the conversation to the streets, the market places, to schools and directly into homes. Let us advocate to influence legislation in education such that informed consent will be taught in our school curriculum.

Let us hold town halls to engage community leaders, motor park and market leaders and talk about what sexual assault, harassment and consent.

Let’s engage the religious community. At the heart of the harassment of women lies the idea of a woman’s “inferiority” and male entitlement which is directly and indirectly perpetuated in religious teachings. Religious communities will need to reexamine their theology and see the overall damage it’s doing to women.

We need to also take hard line decisions to make sure there are consequences.

Street marches, protests and boycotts should be used to make sure victims get justice and perpetrators and enablers don’t get away with it.

Artistes whose concerts have proven to be unsafe, where women have been assaulted, raped and/or robbed, should be boycotted and petitions written to brands that have endorsed him.

Nigerian women are not asking for the moon. We only want to live.

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