‘Dress­ing has noth­ing to do with ha­rass­ment’

Daily Trust - - HOME FRONT - By Lat­i­fat Opoola

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.

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