A list of all of the things Nigerian women in public spaces have to normalize just to stay safe. Spoiler alert: Most of them are things men don’t have to worry about.

zikoko- Nigerian women in public

1. Hiding sanitary products in their sleeves, pockets or bags when going to the bathroom in public places. Why? Because there is still a lot of baseless stigma around periods with people terming them “disgusting”.

2. Having a pepper spray bottle as an actual handbag necessity “just in case”.

2. Wielding their keys as “weapon” when walking alone at night.

3. Not using headphones while walking on a path at night to stay alert and make sure they are not being followed. 

4. Lowkey switching up their pace when someone is behind them on a lonely street.

5. Calling friends or family when alone in a taxi/Uber in order to feel safe.

6. Always texting friends/family the Uber driver’s details “just in case”. Because “just in case” is an actual possibility.

7. Being slutshamed and called ashawo
by a man for any reason at all.

8. Not going out at all at certain times because it’s dangerous. Certain times include if it’s too early in the morning or too late at night.

9. Pretending to be taking a call on the phone while in public in any number of situations (ie walking down the street, waiting for a bus, waiting at an ATM queue) to avoid harassment.

zikoko- Nigerian women in public

10. Using a fake wedding ring as a shield to reduce the chances of men toasting/harassing them because men prefer the idea of respecting another man’s “property” more to the idea of respecting woman’s right to say no.

11. Giving men fake names and phone numbers when approached to altogether avoid their anger at being rejected.

12. Remaining silent when being verbally harassed because of the fear that if they fight back it’ll turn violent.

13. Keeping their drinks covered with their hands and getting their friend to watch it if they need to go to the bathroom at a bar so that it doesn’t get spiked.

14. Dealing with men invalidating their feelings because they can’t relate.

That’s a list of 14 extra things Nigerian women in public spaces have to normalize just to stay safe. Did we miss any? Drop it in the comments.

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