Navigating life as a woman in the world today is incredibly difficult. From Nigeria to Timbuktu, it’ll amaze you how similar all our experiences are.
Every Wednesday, women the world over will share their takes on everything from sex to politics right here.
In South Africa today, a woman is murdered every three hours. The statistics in Nigeria doesn’t match these numbers but we come close. These statistics are what you get when the culture of male violence against women is allowed to hit a climax. On this week’s #WhatSheSaid I talked to 7 women about their experiences with male violence in situations ranging from relationships to just taking a stroll.
Stories of women encountering violence when doing something as mundane as trying to park a car are not only angering but terrifying. While the responsibility of ending this violence falls on the men who perpetrate it, we’ll do the only thing we can – continue to share our stories.
For talking to another man.
We were in a relationship. We got into a pretty serious argument about some other guy that had been moving to me as we were walking down the road and he pushed me to the ground and kept walking. I scraped my knee. The crazy part is I got up and started running after him to beg. See love will make you foolish.
For parking my car.
He said he was about to park in the space and that I came out of nowhere to take his parking space. He was already by my car screaming before I got out, but I had no plans to engage. When I got out he stood in my way and won’t let me pass. I didn’t say anything I just tried to push pass him and he pushed me back unto my car. He did it two more times before someone intervened.
As a joke
It was a small slap we were arguing about something silly and he said, “Shut up jo. What are you saying?”and slapped me. Everyone I told about it said it wasn’t a big deal, that he was just playing, but it raised alarm bells in my head. People have a weird perception of what a violent relationship is supposed to look like. It’s like if there are no bruises or physical evidence then it’s not real. When I told a friend that he hit me, she was like “When, where?” I told her my face and she said I don’t see anything.
During a verbal argument.
We weren’t dating; we weren’t even that close we were just arguing at a house party and “I’ll slap you, oya slap me now” turned into an actual slap. I was expecting everyone at the party to react or say something, to come to my defence, even kick him out, there was just awkward silence after it happened. I didn’t even react, I didn’t say anything because if I had opened my mouth, I’d have started crying.
For passing through the market
Every weekday, after a long day of work, I have to pass through Yaba Market to get home. This is tedious because the market is always overcrowded with pedestrians, drivers, market sellers and buyers. It’s especially worse because the market sellers — the men — do not understand boundaries. They grab me, or any other woman passing through by our arms, hold our shoulders, link their fingers in ours etc. It’s infuriating. I always cuss them out, but they end up pushing me, insulting and cursing me. And this happens every single weekday. They’re never apologetic; they feel like they have a right to my body or personal space. It scares me to stay at work later than daylight because that means I might be met with an even worse fate.
For being assertive.
If I’m being honest, I saw signs of violence when we were dating. He slapped me once, but I forgave him. Between 1997 when I got married and 2005 when I left, he beat me on average, once a month. He was always angry with me, because I’m an assertive person who believes I should have a say in my marriage. He said I should only be seen, not heard. Whenever I disagreed with him, I earned a beating. On one occasion he threw a lit lantern at me. In another instance, he held a knife to my head.
He was just fond of beating me.
We never got married but we lived together. He promised he’d come and see my people, but he never did. He was fond of beating me. I remember vividly, a day he beat me and packed all my clothes and burnt them. It was neighbours and friends that gave me clothes to wear. After that, I went back to my father’s place with my children. He came to beg and promised to stop but he never did. One day I reported to his friend. That angered him, he came back home, beat me thoroughly and asked me to pack and leave his house.