A group of young women and men thronged the popular clothes market located in Yaba area of Lagos, last Saturday, 15th of December 2018. Donning bright yellow shirts, with placards and their smartphones, they rent the air with chants of “don’t touch us” “we are not your spec”.
This movement, which trended on Twitter throughout the weekend under the #MarketMarch is more than a protest. It is clearly a cry against the usual over enthusiastic calls that borders on harassment and victimization of the female shoppers by male traders.
For most women who visit markets across Nigeria, the story is the same. From Yaba, Tejuosho, Mile 12 markets in Lagos to markets in Enugu, Onitsha and Abuja, they speak of having to mentally and physically prepare themselves against the usual verbal slaughter and explicit sexual overtures they suffer.
The Damilola Marcus led #marketmarch may just be the catalyst for the much needed societal change towards sexual harassment in the markets.
While it may not look like much, the social media outrage the march attracted, may just be enough to ginger relevant authorities to take action to effect sanctions for this innocuous acts of sexual violence. If it worked for #MeToo, why not #marketmarch?
The news today that the Former Obafemi Awolowo University lecturer Prof Richard Iyiola Akindele who sexually harassed a university student Monica Osagie, has finally pleaded guilty, also buttresses the value of mass action! Although he initially pleaded not guilty, it was the ruckus created on social media and interest from relevant authorities that saw him being charged to court in the first place.
Now, the question is, can Social media be that tool that finally buries these patterns of sexual harassment in Nigeria? Will it finally nail the coffin on patriarchy? Let us know if we are just dreaming… Drop your comments below.