‘Dressing has nothing to do with harassment’
Maybe if you weren’t dressed in a provocative way, he wouldn’t have touched you the way he did. That sentence shocked me and since then I have secretly resented my mother for it,” said Zainab.
and dresses appropriately,” he added.
Dr Mary Ndifon, a lecturer of Human Psychology, Federal College of Education, Zuba, said blaming the way women dress for the harassment they suffered from men was not fair because some of the men also harassed women who were properly dressed, including those who wore even hijab.
“What are we talking about here; these men are troubled, because how do you explain those that harass women on hijab or even children who have not developed sexual organs. The men are troubled and need serious help, and I believe if we stop blaming these women, it’s going to be a start in helping to curb it,” she said.
Although she cautioned women on improper dressing, stating that they would be addressed the way they dressed, she also warned against having to make it their fault when harassment happened.
“There’s never a justification to sexually harass a woman. There is nothing that makes the derogatory way you treat her more understandable even if you don’t like the way she’s dressed because no matter what a woman wears, it’s never an invitation for sexual harassment. She’s not an object for the gratification of men,” she said.
A notion shared by Chinyere Eyoh, the Executive Director of SOAR initiative, an organisation focused on preventing child sexual abuse and providing support for those who have been sexually abused.
According to her, blaming the harassed person is the height of injustice; a lesson most security agencies and care providers must learn, adding that the blame factor is what has allowed the trend of rape to persist because most victims go underground and refuse to report the incident for fear of being blamed and stigmatised.
“Imagine when a child is raped, what on earth attracts an adult male to that child? Would you say it’s her dressing, or a school uniform? If it’s not that it’s the man’s deprived desire. They are simply sick and need help,” she said.