By Chioma Chuka
So I had a bit of a rant on Twitter on the 2nd of October. Nine days later and the matter hasn’t left my mind, so I knew I had to write about it. And what better day than today, the International Day of the Girl?
Why the vexation? I saw a retweet by a friend where a lady (@dorymanze) said
To start with, I personally think the Abuja Environmental Protection Agency (AEPB) should be scrapped, and fast. There are too many stories of how its officials have molested innocent people (especially females) in the name of ‘carrying out their duties’. The prostitutes they were mandated to get off the streets are worse off because not only is there no rehabilitation, they are manhandled, beaten, and fondled (the least of what a good number of them endure). Like most other government agencies, I think (no I know) that AEPB should be scrapped, especially since there’s a Ministry of Environment! This duplicity of office/function in Nigeria gives me major grief!
*breathe FGS, breathe* Ok, so if it was @dammie3264i’s sister, wife (partner or girlfriend), or even his mother who got molested by anyone, would he ask what they were wearing? My thinking is he would round up a bunch of his friends in a fit of rage and go defend their honor. And he would rant and rave, and start a Twitter campaign to get one million signatures to seek ‘justice’ for his own. It’s someone else now though, so it’s OK to run his mouth and ask her what she was wearing. He particularly said, “check yourself”. I can’t even deal!
Ladies and gentlemen, this IS the problem with Nigeria and I’ll tell you why. My dad in many of his sermons admonishes people to be ‘hoe’ rather than ‘shovel’ Christians. He says, “ when you hear a commandment from God, for instance, ‘thou shall not kill’, and you immediately think to yourself that the commandment is not for you but for criminals on the street, you err, and you’re a ‘shovel’ Christian. The better reaction to hearing that commandment would be to internalize the words and search yourself, see if by your words or actions you have caused death (literally or not), and then make amends, and work towards it not happening again. In other words, be a ‘hoe’ Christian”.
How does that apply to us? It’s not till things hit close to home that we see them as life or death issues. When people are getting bombed in Adamawa or Gombe and we’re in the comfort of our homes in Lagos or Abuja, it seems so ‘far away’, and all we do is pray for the repose of the souls of the dead on Twitter.
Our politicians, the people entrusted with ratifying our laws flout them with impunity, and because we are not related to them we call for their heads on a platter. Inside we’re praying to get elected or appointed to their position so we too can feed fat, and of course when it’s our parents or relations robbing the nation blind, our tongues are buried. We fall silent. We have different rules for different people. This ‘Animal Farm‘ scenario is the bane of our society, and we are all guilty.
Back to the AEPB. Is there a dress code that like a red cloth to a bull, justifies molestation? Even if this lady was dressed in fabric that had ‘molest me’ on every square inch, is that reason enough? OK, let’s even say she was dressed ‘indecently’ (and I think the AEPB, before they are scrapped should publish an ‘acceptable or not’ dress code for Abuja residents), do you handcuff her hands or her breasts? What were they touching those for?
I intentionally did not interview @dorymanze for this chronicle because I saw she’s told her story severally and I wanted to spare her the horror of reliving the horrible incident. I’m proud of her for speaking up because it is not the easiest thing to do, especially in our society. I hope (pray) she’s able to put this incident behind her, and move on with her life.
I won’t even bother with hoping she gets justice, that would be the height of naiveté.
Writer : Chioma Chuka blogs at http://fairygodsister.wordpress.com Follow her on twitter @chiomachuka