Week 2: Vox Commentaries: Public Harassment of Women and Girls; An Acceptable Norm? | ACEworld

by OLAYIWOLA Faith Adedolapo
The dominance of men, has not just allowed for the excessive misuse of power among the male gender but also the sexual harassment of the female folks both publicly and privately. This is not some ‘ism’ supporting the feminists and calling for a disempowerment of the male dominance. However thoughtful it is, that a gender assumes all responsibilities as being the superior and acts as a finality to all issues. This is 2019, and if a man still claims to be the head in lieu of a partner, that would be not be some old-school ideology but static reasoning.
The public harassment of the female gender; young and old; has become normalised but not normal. Now, do not get me wrong; sexual assault affects both the male and female gender but mostly women and children. It comes in all forms-rape, female genital mutilation, women and girls trafficking, in marriages and so on. These assaults are not only physical but also, emotional, social and political. It is so allowed that even ladies now appear to accept it as a norm and one thing that can never be scraped out of the society. Hence, they smile and reply to these assaulters as a means of escape from the aggressive ones. Those who take ‘snubbing’ and avoid the male gender are tagged with all sort of names; publicly and loudly disgraced by these shameless groups.
Hardly a day goes by without a female gender being harassed. This has now become a social norm within our society. Many individuals have failed to report several of these harassments as there is no structure in place for them to receive justice-class, social and gender structure. Those who attempt have to face cyber-attacks, political and legal manipulations, and societal disgrace amongst others. Hence, many of them decide to shut up or find other alternatives in lieu of taking legal actions.
Women and girls are being harassed in every sector; markets inclusive. Take for instance, female shoppers; not female traders; expressed their concern as regard the physical and verbal assaults made by the male traders at Yaba (Tejuoso) market. Is it now a crime to shop in the market? Several of them described how these male traders have always been abusive to the women. Mind you, this assault has been for years without anyone doing anything to publicly condemn it. The Market March team, who had staged the peaceful protest, also had a taste of the men’s aggressive acts which included names calling (jobless, lesbians and prostitutes), throwing of sachets of water, stones and corns and so on. Even the secretary of the market said that women were not forced to the market and they would not come to them if it was that bad.
Also, in the academia, students and female workers tend to flow along this same pattern. The most popular form of female bullying, aro, is a social system in most schools; from secondary schools to higher institutions. Take for instance, the popular King’s college, Lagos, is one school famous for its evening rituals. The male boarders of this school take into bullying, naming female passersby and making fun of their body buildup. But it is more annoying to see women smile as they walk. They call it ‘a means for these children to enjoy themselves’. Enjoy what? These children grow up to become nuisances in the society; causing needless gender contest and problems. This act is also influenced by the accepted cultural and gender roles, whereby the girls are taught to accept every act of the male gender as right and superior. Hence, the boys wrong actions are being overlooked and this creates an unsafe and unbearable society for the female folks.
The ideology created in the society which sees women and girls as sex objects; for example, the entertainment and advertising industry are one of the industries in Nigeria which cannot attract loud and hot-seasoned responses from their audience when they do not feature ladies in their movies, musical videos and ads.  Hence, women are seen in seductive costumes and addressed to as the ‘selling point’. No, I am not in support as others would say that the male folks should also be made to do the same. But that this should be generally scraped and banned. Hence, no gender is at a disadvantage at the social, political and religious levels. Also, sex should not be made a qualification for the female gender and a standard for gaining employment. At this level and age of reasoning, sex is no longer a determinate for securing a job but determining its termination.
It is high time the society stopped laying accusations against the female gender on issues like rape and sexual violence. Many of these victims are being accused based on their mode of dressing and also place a limit on the involvement of women and girl in social and political matter; tagging them as masculine. They are accused of letting and placing themselves in places of vulnerability. Public enlightenment as a ruled out solution to the issue of public harassment has proven to be ineffective. Hence, there is a need for a legislative measure which would favour the victimised and reduce the sexual abnormalities in the society.
Also, beyond bringing legislative measures into place, it is important that the civil society organisations go beyond advocating for the rights of the victims and work towards ensuring that the endangered victims do not fall into the hands of the perpetrators of these acts. It is everybodys responsibility to provide a society free from sexual violence. It is worthy of note that no one knows who the next victim is; probably your sister or your daughter. Till then….

OLAYIWOLA Faith Adedolapo | ACEworld
OLAYIWOLA Faith Adedolapo writes from Ibadan. She raps in literary forms. Her write-ups have been featured on several magazines and online platforms. She can be reached via:
Phone number: 08100049733
Email:[email protected]

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