My first sexual harassment occurred at age 9 and the act was perpetrated by my uncle; my mum's younger half-brother. I think that he had attempted to insert a finger in my vagina, after rubbing my clitoris, while I was sitting on his lap. My mother (God bless her) caught him and promptly cut all ties from him.
Consequently, I got my first sexual education that day. My mum educated my sister and I, and informed us to stay away from men and to not allow them to touch our breasts and vaginas. Needless to say, we got the message. She also told us to be violent; to slap and stone any man, regardless of who he was, that attempted to touch us. She let us know that we would always have her full support in these type of situations. This became my sister and I's mindset. In a crowd or in a room with a man, we were watchful and cautious and ready to slap and shout at any man who tried us knowing that we had our mom's full support. This education wasn't only a preparation however; it was something that would be useful in both our lives.
My second and most traumatic sexual harassment occurred at the hands of a man I do not know nor will ever know. I had just gotten into SS1 and I was in my senior girl skirt and blouse, on my way to school in the morning, around 7 am. My skirt was shin length (I attended a Christian only girls' school) and my top was a button up sleeveless shirt. I had on a white camisole underneath but no bra; my mum didn't feel I needed one then. I was walking to Oyingbo, Ebute-Metta bustop to get a Yaba bus when this well-dressed man (in a suit, looking relatively harmless) pulled my breasts.
I have to tell you, I have never ever been so shocked or surprised in my life.
I reacted by trying to slap him but he had removed his hands and was laughingly walking away. I felt so humiliated and degraded that I picked up stones and anything I could see and starting running and hauling the stones at him. I started crying. I couldn't understand what had just happened or why it had happened. After I calmed down, I went to school but I couldn't tell anybody at school and I was sad the whole day. Immediately I got home however, I told my mum. She sympathized with me and told me to start being more aware of all men, coming towards me. She told me to always have stones and my math-set compass handy enough to do damage to any man that accosted me. Then we checked out my dressing and how I looked in my uniform and we decided it was time I started wearing a bra.
That incident, was the first time I was aware of just how dangerous men were to women, physically and emotionally.
I couldn't believe how humiliated and degraded I felt because of what this man had done.
There have of course been other incidents of sexual harassment; one from my uncle on dad's side (a medical doctor) and lecturers when I was at university. My sister unfortunately has also been on the receiving end of sexual harassment. She once slapped an Arabic teacher and is currently dealing with some lecturers in university. Over all, I believe we have had it milder than most women out there.
I am currently married with kids, but I have not forgotten about any of these incidents. I feel like crying for myself any time I remember, and this is why I felt compelled to share my story. I have a daughter who is so beautiful and even though we have a better life and a working system in the UK, I won't stop talking about feminism and it's purposes.
A major one being the eradication of the sexual objectification of women.
I want a future where my daughter is safe. Sometimes, I wish I had not had children or a daughter, only because I am afraid of what is happening in this world today and what could happen to my daughter. I love my boy of course, but I just worry so much about the life of the female child. I have vowed to train my son to be the best of men, respecting and loving women without seeing them as a tool for servitude or generally dimming their Shine. Moreover, I want my daughter to live her best life; BEST LIFE doing whatever she wants for her happiness and God willing, within decency.
May Allah SWT help me and all other daughters, wives and mothers out there.
The writer of this Personal story decided to remain Anonymous.
Image: Photographer J.D. Okhai Ojeikere