Today, I am deviating a bit from the central theme of this blog, forgive me. It is for a good cause though.
I have a story to tell. Please be patient and read it all.
The other day (a Saturday, 11th June, 2016), I was at home, sat on my balcony, working on something. I am hardly ever out there but that day I was. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a man take position to urinate in the gutter in front of the house. I absolutely detest that but it is one of those things that are just done in Nigeria. I looked at him and “eyed” him to show my displeasure but didn’t say anything. He looked straight at me. I went back to what I was doing. I was quite intent on my task but I noticed that he remained there for quite a while. I looked up and saw him looking straight at me and then I noticed that he was shaking his penis which is something guys do when they are done urinating, no? I was intent on my task and went back to it.
After about 1.5 minutes, it occurred to me that he was still there. I glanced at him, he was still shaking his penis and still looking straight at me. That was when it clicked that he wasn’t merely urinating. I got up and was only then able to confirm that he was masturbating and wanted me to see. You see, my house has a high-ish wall and I couldn’t see anything until I got up.
I immediately checked to see if there were any security guards on the street. We have several Mallams and they are almost always milling around. Like almost always. That day there was absolutely no-one around. I can’t remember the last time I experienced that. I started screaming at The Pevert hoping to draw someone’s attention. I am not shy about things like this. Plus I don’t have victim mentality (I will come back to that statement) so I was shouting out exactly what he was doing on the road. I said “Why are you masturbating on the road? Pevert!”
Meanwhile, The Pevert was not in a hurry. He zipped up very slowly, apparently wanting me to see his penis now that I was standing and then he very slowly began to stroll away while I was shouting. In fact, he turned back a few times to look at me while I was in the middle of my tirade. Sometimes smiling, sometimes chuckling. Never with a straight face. It was beyond weird.
What was even weirder was that a male neighbor was then passing by at about that same time and rather than hold this individual, he was looking at me and smiling as he was walking by. I couldn’t understand that. If it were any of my brothers that heard that someone was masturbating publicly, they would have held unto and then turned him over to the police. This man (who has young children) was looking at me and smiling as he was passing the perp. In hindsight, it was as though he thought that I was just another female having a “female-type” melt-down.
I told The Pevert to wait for me so I could come down and beat him (again, I no dey fear) but I knew I wouldn’t reach him on time. Too many locked doors and stairs between me and him. Plus, I am not stupid. No mallams on the street meant that I would not have back-up should this man overpower me.
So, The Pevert got away.
I made it a point of duty to mention the episode to my housekeeper when she came to work the following Monday. Her first statement was ” So, he came back?” I was completely taken aback and further taken aback (if that is possible after being completely taken aback, lol) when she said that she had seen him at least twice and the last time, he had given her enough time to come into the house, get some water and pour it on him. (I honestly don’t know how well the water would have hit him as it is a bit of a distance from the balcony to his position across the wall).
But you see, this was not the most shocking thing. She said “Do you remember when I told you [your daughter] was out on the balcony and a man told her to come downstairs? I am pretty certain this is the same man.” So you see, this Pevert is not only a serial masturbator, he is also a potential pedophile.
I remember that episode clearly. I was out, just the housekeeper and my daughter were in, when this man told her to come downstairs to him. She says that he was holding a bag from which candy was sticking out. She immediately ran to get my housekeeper to show her the man. You see, my daughter is not allowed to open the door to non-family members much less exit the house on her own. It has been drummed into her since she was able to understand words. She is now 10years old so it is second nature. And she was able to sense danger.
You see, I have spoken to her about sexual parts, intercourse, rape and non-penetrative assault and she knows that anyone can pose a threat.
We call her body parts by name and have always done. No pet names. So her Vagina is called “Vagina”. Her buttocks is called “Buttocks or Bum”, her breasts are called “Breasts” A boy’s part is called “Penis”. No “my private place” ” my fluffy bits” or any of those flimsy euphemisms that people like to use. She also has a plan for if anything ever happens. I can’t share it here as it is private to us.
Let’s go back to The Pevert. As soon as I heard that he may be a potential pedophile I sent word to get a Stun Gun and pepper spray so that the next time he comes, I will be ready. I also have phone numbers for the mallams on my street so that if I can, I will surreptitiously call on them to hold him.
I asked the housekeeper why she did not call on the Mallams to catch him and she said that on both occasions, there were zero mallams available to call upon. So clearly, The Pevert scopes the area before he begins. A clever pervert is a dangerous pervert.
Now let’s talk about my driver’s reaction which I found to be quite interesting and typically Nigerian. He said he had heard of such a man in the adjoining area but had never seen him. That there was talk that he was under a curse and that someone had “shekpe-ed” for him from the village. That it would not be a good idea to attack him because he may have an underlying illness that will kill him for sure if he were ever attacked for what he was doing.
I told him that in my opinion, this guy was nothing more than a deviant and was being stripped of responsibility by attributing it to superstitious beliefs. I asked him if the flashers, pedophiles and sexual deviants in America were also victims of a curse. No answer.
This whole things makes me wonder:
1. What happens if I catch The Pevert and hand him over to the police? Will they let him go? Can they hold him on any charges? Even rape is so difficult to convince them on, how would they treat this flasher and masturbator?
2. When will we begin to take matters of sexual assault seriously in this country? You can see that on one end, the society sort of condones it under superstitious beliefs. On the other hand (as is the case with my neighbor) we just look on. By the way, this man has young kids who may be allowed a freer hand to leave the house than my own child.
3. How many of us have spoken to our kids (boys and girls) about sex? I am a very shy person but I determined early on that I would be the first person to talk to my daughter about it so that she has the right information. I was not going to let my shyness get in the way. Imagine my shock when one of my friends who also has a 10-year old daughter said that she has never spoken to her daughter about sex. There are plenty of depraved people waiting in the wings, ready to share practical sessions with these susceptible children.
RE: victim mentality. In Nigeria, one gets the feeling that things like this should be hushed up. That you should just thank The Lord that you dodged a bullet and not let anyone know. That if you told too many people, they would wonder about you. They create a “victim mentality” and I am not about that business.
If we all kept quiet, problems like these would never be resolved.
To end, this story, this experience comes at a time when we (my NITC co-organizers and I) have asked for the help of Iheoma Obibi, an African feminist writer and human rights activist to come and give a talk at the meet up about “How to talk to Children about sex and sexuality“. Please note that we said “children” not “girls”. All children are vulnerable. This talk is so important to me that I will try to tape and upload it for those that will be unable to make it. If you are able to make it though, details are in the flyer below.