#METOOMOVEMENT: NOT JUST A HASHTAG
The presence of Uncle Jide in Tori’s house means different things to different people in the house. For Tori’s father, it means endless gist about politics and football, coupled with work and childhood memoirs and escapades. For Tori’s mother, it means another supply of fresh fish and sea animals from the Niger-Delta. For Tori and her siblings, it means lots of chocolates and cookies at his arrival and fat pocket money at his departure.
Among them all, Tori is Uncle Jide’s favourite, she is such an intelligent young girl, she tops her class effortlessly, a trait Uncle Jide displayed when he was her age. This facilitated his scholarship to the Oxford University for both his first degree and second degree. He got a job with a multinational oil company and posted to his own country as an expatriate. He wanted the kind of life he had for Tori, at least she deserved it because of her brilliance. Tori love Uncle Jide as well, he helps with her assignment and both of them was really close.
Sweet story turn sour the day Uncle Jide visited and met no one at home but Tori. She ran to his embrace him just like she usually does. She sat on his laps but something was unusual, she felt like she sat on something, it was hard and warm. Uncle, I think I sat on your phone, she says. He smiled back and replied, it is not my phone but it is something you will like. He pulls her up, unzips his trousers and brought it out. She was dumbfounded; couldn’t say a word. He placed her on the sofa, removed her underdress and forced himself on her. She was in pain, she wanted to scream but he had his wide palm over her mouth. This was the beginning of many to happen. She couldn’t tell anyone. He was 55, she is just a child, she is only 12
Quarter to 4pm, Bili was in her room pretending to be sleeping. Alhaji came in with koboko (horse whip) in his hand. Charged at her, “you this useless child, He screamed, do I have to remind you that is time to Quran school. This is why you never learn anything even after 2 years. Your brother started just only a few weeks ago and he is already learning interpretation of the Holy book.”
Bili reluctantly stood up, got dressed and headed for the Quran School. Alfa Najim was busy with other students when she arrived a little after 5 pm. “Why do you always come late, you this lazy thin?”. He hit her with the cane in his hand. “Go and kneel down in my office.” With tears laden in her eyes, she managed to walk through the class into Alfa Najim office.
Few minutes after, Alfa Najim came into the office with a smirk smile on his heavily bearded face. He walked up close to where she had knelt down. He pulls up the long robe he wore, His manhood stares bare at her face. He forced it into her mouth, held her head firmly to himself. His smile grew wider with every stroke. She was choking, gasping for air. He raised her up with her face facing the table, from behind he penetrated into her. She burst into tears, albeit silent. He finished, releasing his full being into her. He bent down and whisper into her ears. If you tell anyone, I will kill you.
About an hour later, she stood in front of the dresser in her room, opened one of the drawers, she brought out her dairy, the only thing that listens to her story, the only one who believes the horror she undergoes every day from the very person that was supposed to lead her closer to God. She opened to the last page …………….. 247. She picked up her pen, she has a lot to tell her diary, her hand shaking as she moves her pen to whisper to the diary the secret between them. She wrote 248…… This is the number of times she has been violated by her Quran teacher.
These are just two of several million others who have been assaulted or violated by the very people they trusted. The statistics stare us in the face with a number that is not so encouraging. Even with these large numbers, many cases still go unreported, leaving victims with life long trauma and psychological conditions.
When the #metoomovement started, it was to encourage sexual assault victims to speak out, to give them a voice and ensure offenders don’t go free. Many men of note have gotten away with sexual assault and abuse. One major factor that encourages this is religion. People in certain religion believes and see nothing wrong in getting married to a minor or getting attracted to a little girl. They misinterpreted the holy book and believe in order to avoid fornication, minor can be married off against their consent. There is a need to set up more institutions that encourage sexual assault victims to come out, encourage the female child to speak up when they are being molested, abused or assaulted.
News broke a few days ago about the unlawful arrest of the #arewametoo convener, Maryam Awaisu. It was reported that men of the Federal Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) invaded her office and forced her away. They even tried to gain access to her computer and mobile phone. The report has it that her movement has encouraged many victims especially in the northern part of Nigeria to speak out about their experience, many of these indicted many powerful men. Hence the intimidation.
This is a very sad and unacceptable development. When we think we are recording a little success with the movement, some powerful people are using state resources, which are supposed to protect the victims to suppress their voice and prevent them from talking. Nevertheless, we will continue to encourage our sisters and daughters to speak out and as they do so, implore the government to impose capital punishment on the perpetrators of these acts.
Whether you are a victim or you have them as friends, let us encourage them to come out and speak, no matter who the suspect is. This will ensure that #metoomovement and #arewameto is actually movements that produces results and not just another hashtag.