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If Habibat Wasn’t Shamed

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Sunday, November 24th, 2019
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According to statistics, women in Africa are faced with gender discrimination on a daily basis that it has become part of her daily life. Most times, women pay dearly for sins which should be overlooked. There is a high level of paving moral standards amongst women than it is for men. When a woman screams in public, she is a witch but when a man screams in public something must have triggered him to do that. Right from childhood, women have been preached the idea of standing out for men. If you don’t do this, no man will marry you, if you don’t squat, no man will appreciate you. Learn to be accommodating for your man. Men love women who are accommodating and then you sometimes ask what happens to the men? The truth is, this answer isn’t farfetched. The boys at home watch football, play football with their friends. They are not taught how to be put together for their women. No form of responsibility but there you go with the girls who are burdened to stay right for their men. These men grow up to think they are doing a woman a favour by marrying her. They begin to feel that whatever privilege a woman has, is through her man. They overlook the strides of the woman and that is why, the workplace because war for most women cos the boys run the show. The woman has to struggle extra hard to climb up the ladder. She has to prove a point, constantly prove a point that she is worth it. Sometimes, she stays extra hours to get the job done, she runs home to take care of her family and when she wants to take some days off, the men with no form of responsibility outside work, ask her if they told her to marry or juggle marriage with work. Patriarchy is at its highest on this continent. Some of us don’t even see this as what it is. We just feel women are demanding to be equal with men, women want to start proving to be men. Some of us feel it is about hatred. A clique of women who hate men are coming to sell off their ideas to other women but look at the story of Habibat…

rape namibiaHabibat grew up in an average Northern home, in Nigeria. She’s the first child of her parents, she really wanted to be educated. In fact, all her life, she wanted to be a lecturer, an academic. She’s a brilliant chap and her parents knew this. One day, Habibat went to visit a friend of hers who had three brothers. This girl is a good friend of Habibat, they were both in the same class in senior secondary school 2 and they clicked. You know how secondary school friendship was back then, they went everywhere together and one day, Habibat felt she should visit her at home cos neither of them has been to each other’s house. So, after school, Habibat decided to visit her. She stayed a bit with her until her friend told her she wanted to go get something down the road. Habibat being free at her friend’s place, in her friend’s room, undressed and laid on the bed waiting for her friend to be back but unfortunately, something happened. One of her friend’s brothers came into the room and saw the nakedness of an innocent girl. He moved quietly towards her knowing well that there was no one at home before he came in, and guess what? Habibat was raped.  Habibat ran home. She didn’t wait for her friend. She didn’t go to school for some days. They were worried. Some of her classmates came to visit her including her friend but they couldn’t see Habibat. She refused to see anyone, she refused to speak. One day, her mother begged her to talk. Habibat, I beg of you. You have refused to see anyone, you have suddenly become dumb. What happened to you? Finally, she felt she could confide in her mother, she told her all she that happened on that fateful day in pain and tears. Habibat’s mother was angry. She was mad. Take me to the house of that idiot! People come and see oooo.

Some of their neighbours who were more like close relatives rushed in. They were happy that finally, Habibat could say something. Habibat’s mother told them that she is ready to go and kill the boy that defiled her daughter but guess what? Her neighbours who were all women told her not to do so for the sake of Habibat. What? Look at you, people will mock you they said. They would ask you how you trained your daughter, did you train her to go and be visiting other people after school? Did you train her to undress in the house of another person? See, and this might even stop her from getting married later in life. They will use it against her. The only thing we can do is find a way to flush out the sperm so she won’t be pregnant and the shame will be covered for life. Maybe you can take Habibat to your friend’s place in Lagos and she can stay there for a while. It is better to keep your family name and integrity. Even though, Habibat’s mother was pulled aside to be spoken to, Habibat overheard the discussion and wept bitterly. At the end of the day, she got the blame. The criminal would go scotfree. She went into danger with her eyes open.  Habibat followed her mum to Lagos, they flushed out the sperm before she travelled and she started a ‘new life in Lagos’ she was told never to discuss her past with anyone. She stayed with her mum’s aunt whose place was good for her, no one molested her, but she never forgot that incidence. She was never healed. She carried that scar around her but nothing hurts more than the words of those women. The advice they gave her mother and the fact that her mum, followed through cos it made sense to her.

Now 12, this girl was 11 when she was abducted and raped as part of a spate of attacks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo village of Kavumu. Photograph: Lauren Wolfe
Photograph: Lauren Wolfe

Maybe it was really her fault to be raped. Maybe she tempted the man with her nakedness. Maybe she lacked home training by following her friend home. She never stopped thinking about the ‘maybes’ she couldn’t stop though somewhere in her heart, she felt bitten twice. she felt deprived of justice. she felt raped a second time.  Countless times, she had nightmares. That day keep taunting her in her sleep and she couldn’t talk to anyone. she has been barred from speaking. Her predator told her never to speak and when she spoke to her mum about it, she reiterated what her predator told her. ‘DO NOT TELL THIS TO ANYONE’ so, what is the essence of living?  One day, Habibat left the house and never returned home. Up until now, Habibat never came back.

This is what we do when we blame victims. We have refused to train up a lot of men. We have refused to make these men really grow up and guess what? the system enhances their folly.

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