Every day I tell myself that I’ve had enough of Twitter, that I need some time and space to calibrate, recover from one horrible news or event on the timeline. Yet, I realize that I cannot exactly live in a bubble, and real heart-breaking things are happening. It’s always as simple as looking away, especially when it involves such gruesome violence and death. Just this Sunday morning, many of us woke up to the devastating news of the rape and murder of a young graduate looking for a job. She was violently sexually assaulted and then murdered by a man who dressed up a false work opportunity. I’m not here to rehash the details that you probably already know, but if you are like me, and like many other Nigerian woman, then the news would have been very triggering. Was it not just last year that we grieved the death of another young girl who was raped and murdered while studying in a church premise in Benin? Will this ever stop?
I am sad, angry and afraid; I am a woman. I have friends and sisters and cousins. And I want to know what option can guarantee our safety if after taking every so-called precaution, we are still not safe from violent men. Are we to avoid any encounters with men? Are we to live in perpetual fear? How can we fight a culture that enables rape and let rapists go without any consequences? These questions are overwhelming and seem to have no answers. Still, I am not completely hopeless. Here are a few things I am doing to make the world a little safer for myself and other women.
The first step for me is advocacy. At this point, rape is a national problem. Nigeria has a rape problem. And we should about this problem with our platforms on social media, at work, in church, in the market—whenever we have an opportunity to speak about social issues, rape should be the number one topic.
It is also important that we educate our brothers, uncles, male friends. It doesn’t matter if they are not rape apologists, we need to let them know that they cannot stand idle or keep quiet about the rape pandemic we have in Nigeria.
We all cannot be public activists or educators marching on the street, but financial contribution is another way to fight against rape. Several not-for-profit organisations in Nigeria cater to rape survivors and help put rapists behind bars. If you can afford it, set aside a part of your salary for donation to fund these organisations, the work they do is invaluable.
Finally, remain vigilant. I know it seemed terrifying that we have to always be vigilant in public but for now, that is all we can do while we combat rape in Nigeria. Be vigilant, not only for yourself but for girls and women around you.
Be kind to yourself, avoid watching the triggering videos on the internet, and take care of your mind. If we are to fight rape culture, we need sound minds and courage to keep pushing for a better and safer world for women.