By Yetunde Arebi
Hi,Â Sexual harassment is
no longer a myth in our society. From the offices to schools and even social andÂ religious places, it is the same story. Often times, victims only end up being victimised again as they end up being blamed They must have done something to warrant such harassment. What could this be?
How does one shake off a sexual harassment? What happens after an harassment has successfully taken place? With these questions in mind, we asked a few respondents who all claimed to have fallen victims of sexual harassment, how it happened and what they did afterwards.
As usual, we are expecting you to send in your contributions on this issue. We will also be glad if you can share a true life experience of you or someone you know along with your contribution. Our mailing addresses remain: The Human Angle, Vanguard, P.M.B. 1007, Apapa, Lagos. Or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lizzy, (30), a Secretary narrates how she was also harassed by the Personnel Manager of a company where she went job hunting when she first arrived Lagos. She concludes her story below as Bimpe, another respondent takes over:
They all believed that the men would begin to find fault with them and force them out of their jobs, should they refuse their advances. Also, I was told that a Secretary that is not attached to any boss would be thrown into the pool room. And there, anything could happen to such a person, including loss of job.
I was also told that accepting these propositions which you are calling harassment is viewed as a way of securing oneâ€™s interest. Let me just conclude that though I did not get the job I have now by sleeping with anybody, but I have since learnt that there is some truth in what most of my friends have said.
Nigeria is now such a vicious society to live in. You are either in or out in the cold, and there is little anyone can do for you. You just have to protect yourself. So, what I will say is that, yes there is sexual harassment, and it will continue to be around with us till the end of time, or at least, till the economy changes and our value for money and riches changes.
What I will not subscribe to is harassment that will not bring anything positive to me. If Iâ€™m harassed and I will benefit from it, then, I will do it.
Bimpe, (33), Public Relation officer, speaks on her experience. She says she was very lucky to escape the lecherous advances of a lecturer back in school, but not without some tell-tale marks. Her story:
Almost everyone of us have at one time or the other, fallen victims of sexual harassment. As far as I am concerned, it is common knowledge among both male and female. It is either we are faced with this problem while in school, in the labour market, or just in the society, you know, the real world. The only thing is that each case is compounded by its unique and inherent attributes and the way the victim handles it.
The most sorrowful experience of sexual harassment I ever had was when I gained admission into the Polytechnic to study Mass Communication. I sailed through the first session of my first year with so much ease and came out with distinction when the results were published in the very first week of the first semester of my second year. I was glad and determined to keep the flag flying.
Lectures began in earnest and I did my best to attend. I met my waterloo some few weeks later, when one of my lecturers, Mr Owie, asked me to see him in his office. I was so scared at first that I didnâ€™tÂ want to honour his invitation.
After meeting with some friends, I was advised that it was better I went to seem him, than have him come on my trail again.
Going will surely avert serious trouble. I went to see him, and there the problems that almost ruined my academic career for the period it lasted began. What he said really amazed me beyond words. I just kept imagining how a man old enough to be my fatherâ€™s age mate would be asking me do date him.
He told me what I stood to benefit from being his little baby in school, and what I would lose if I refused. To me, all his benefits were nothing compared with the moral standard I had inside of me and what I felt I would lose. I knew I would not only lose my relationship with God, but will also lose my dignity and pride the very moment I accept his proposal.
With all these going through my mind all at once, I had no excuse but to refuse in the best decent manner I could. I gathered all the wits and courage I had inside of me and spoke to him. Looking at him in the face and directly into his eye balls.
I expressed myself politely and pleaded with him to accept me as his little daughter. Whatever gave me that guts till today I still cannot fathom.
He said I was being unnecessarily stubborn and would reap the fruit of my stubbornness. Exactly in his own words he said â€œwhen the time comes, you will come pleading on your knees.â€ Immediately, I rejected the statement in my heart.
Although I felt he was ranting because of his hurt ego, I was sure he would soon find another poor soul to prey on. He sent me out of his office with so much fury and I gently sneaked out before he could descend on me.
I was trembling with fear when I got to my department. I kept thinking of his threats and what could become of me should he carry them out. But I consoled my self with the words of God in the Bible, I told myself that whatsoever he liked, he could do. But I wasnâ€™t going to stoop so low to be his girl, neither will I be his prey.
I put so much effort in studying and vowed not to give him an opportunity to carry out his threats. I bought his books and handouts as soon as possible and all through the remaining of the semester he avoided me like a leper. Things went on smoothly for a long while and I was sure that I had been able to bluff the man. With time, the first semester was over and we went on vacation
Two weeks after resumption for the second semester, the results of our previous exams were published. When I went to the departmental notice board to copy my results, I found out that out of the eleven courses I offered,
to be continued